Committee hears Central Bank whistleblower was pressurised to water down draft report

By Daniel McConnell, Irish Examiner Political Editor

A Central Bank whistleblower was pressurised to “remove, omit and delete” critical findings from a draft internal audit report, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has heard this morning.

Sinn Féin's Mary Lou McDonald informed the committee this morning that she had been contacted by the whistleblower who has given a copy of the draft report to her.

Ms McDonald, under privilege, said the whistleblower has since left the bank for refusing to bow to such pressures and is currently taking a dismissal action.

She laid out in some detail how across many headings within the internal report, the Central Bank was either non-compliant or only partially compliant with existing rules.

Ms McDonald then called on her PAC colleagues to investigate the internal report and called for Central Bank authorities to appear before committee.

The Dublin Central TD asked at the committee this morning: “Was the whistleblower punished for refusing to bow to that pressure and has since left their post. It is the whistleblower's strongly held view that they are being punished”.

At the meeting, the Comptroller and Auditor General Seamus McCarthy confirmed he had a discussion with Ms McDonald yesterday about this matter and clarified that some issues about compliance with State rules arose within the Central Bank in 2013.

He said that it emerged that €4m in procurement was found not to have been awarded in line with State rules and that measures were taken “to regularise” the matter subsequently.

PAC chairman John McGuinness said the committee does not have a remit over Central Bank as to its governance, but said he wants to see this matter investigated.

He clarified that the C&AG could do a “value for money” investigation into the Central Bank, but he could not investigate matters of corporate governance.

Independent TD Shane Ross said that the matter deserves investigation, adding that it cannot “be left to some civil servant who will bury it somewhere so we can't get a chance to discuss it”.

It was agreed that the PAC would write to the Central Bank to ask for a copy of the internal audit report, including a transcript of this morning's meeting.


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