The Michael Torpey matter is not going away.
Eyebrows were raised last week, when it was announced that the head of the sub-department at the Department of Finance which is responsible for managing our stakes in the banks left to join Bank of Ireland, days after the State had sold €1bn of its stake in Bank of Ireland. No suggestion of malfeasance or wrongdoing was leveled at Michael Torpey, the head of the Shareholder management Unit who has left to become at Bank of Ireland “Chief Executive of its Corporate and Treasury Division and as a member of the Group Executive Committee”
In the Dail yesterday, the Sinn Fein finance spokesperson again probed the issue with Minister for Finance Michael Noonan and established that three Department of Finance officials who were seconded from the National Treasury Management Agency had left to join the banks. Aside from Michael Torpey, the other two are believed to be Danny Buckley who left for Bank of Ireland and Enda Johnson who left for AIB.
Minister Noonan said these people were not employees of his Department of Finance, they were employees of the NTMA and were merely seconded to his Department, where they would presumably have picked up detailed and unparalleled knowledge of the banks and Government policy. So although they will be in possession of same knowledge as some other civil servants, they are not deemed to present a conflict of interest risk!
The Irish Times reported this week “In July last year Danny Buckley – who dealt with Anglo Irish Bank – left to join Bank of Ireland’s group finance department. His departure followed that of Enda Johnson who left to join State-controlled AIB in May. Mr Johnson was subsequently appointed to the role of head of corporate affairs and strategy on the bank’s new management team”
And what is to stop the NTMA boys from exploiting their intimate and powerful knowledge of the Irish banking sector, in their new roles? Minister Noonan says the NTMA Act and the Official Secrets Act! The NTMA boys must be made of better stuff than most humans, who would be tempted to exploit their knowledge when faced with challenges. Minister Noonan has waved that concern away.
The full parliamentary question and response is here.
Deputy Pearse Doherty: To ask the Minister for Finance the number of officials in his Department that have moved into jobs in the financial sector in the last two years and the cooling off period which was applied to these officials during their moves.
Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan: No officials from my Department have moved into jobs in the financial sector.
I understand that three members of my Department’s Shareholder Management Unit, seconded to my Department from the NTMA, who resigned from the NTMA subsequently took up employment in the financial sector.
The position in respect of the Head of the Shareholder Management Unit is as I set out to the Deputy in the House last week. In the case of the other two employees they served the notice provided for in their contracts.
All employees of the NTMA are subject to section 14 of the National Treasury Management Agency Act, 1990 which prohibits an employee from disclosing any information obtained while carrying out their duties as employees of the NTMA. NTMA employees are also subject to the Official Secrets Act. Contravention of the NTMA Act and the Official Secrets Act is a criminal offence and the prohibition on disclosing confidential information applies indefinitely and extends to former employees