The Irish Times Sarah Bardon
PAC calls Central Bank to respond to allegations
The Public Accounts Committee is to ask the Central Bank to respond to allegations that it ordered the removal of critical findings from a draft internal audit report. A whistleblower who worked with the Bank has claimed he was told to “remove, omit and delete” from a report late last year and was dismissed for making the claims.
The Central Bank published the report last night and PAC has asked for representatives to appear informally before the committee.
Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald, who has met the whistleblower, said there should be no difficultiy in providing the report to the committee. “The Central Bank should be presenting themsleves and talking to us about this process.”
The Central Bank is not accountable to the PAC and the Comptroller and Auditor General is examining the allegations by the whistleblower. Ms McDonald told the committee the former senior auditor has claimed he was put under pressure to alter and remove findings from the report. His contract was not renewed by the bank a month after he made a protected disclosure to the former Central Bank governor Patrick Honohan. He is now taking an unfair dismissal case at the Workplace Relations Commission.
Ms McDonald said: “I don’t believe that good governance in the Central Bank is simply an internal matter for the Central Bank as our regulator and supervisor of the state’s financial services. It’s a matter for all of us.”
The former auditor was asked to conduct an internal audit into whether the Central Bank was compliant with the code of conduct on the governance of state bodies In October last year he produced a draft report and the following month he alleges he was “encouraged, instructed to omit, delete, amend certain findings within the draft”.
The person contacted Mr Honohan and then had no further involvement in finishing the report.
The bank hired consultants Deloitte to examine the issues and found in favour of the Central Bank’s management in December 2014. The following month the whistleblower’s contract was terminated by the Central Bank.
In a statement, the bank said it could confirm that issues raised about an internal audit had been thoroughly investigated last year. “The Central Bank is committed to the principle of public accountability and to developing a culture where it is safe and acceptable for all its employees to raise their concerns about what is happening at work if they have a reasonable belief of wrongdoing.”
The Central Bank said it “investigates all concerns raised by its staff through the Central Bank’s confidential disclosure policy relating to perceived wrongdoing in the Central Bank”.