Whistleblower claims AIB misled Central Bank on bad loan reserves

This could mean that the Irish bank's profits have been overstated

Whistleblower claims AIB misled Central Bank on bad loan reserves

Image: Photocall Ireland

An employee of AIB contacted the Central Bank of Ireland and the ECB in Frankfurt on Wednesday alleging that the bank misled regulators of its progress in dealing with a broad range of loans in arrears and by implication that profits may have been overstated as a result.

A spokesman for the Central Bank declined to comment on the issue this morning when contacted by Newstalk and AIB says that it’s not aware of these allegations being raised internally within the bank.

It is understood the whistleblower, who contacted the banks via an anonymous email has worked in AIB’s Financial Solutions Group where hundreds of staff have been solely focussed in recent years on managing the bank’s bad debts.

These bad loans were as high as €20bn in 2014, but according to the most recent AIB financial results published last month, bad loans had fallen to €13bn at the end of 2015.

AIB announced a 72% increase in pre-tax profits to €1.9bn for 2015. Close to half of this was generated by the writing back to profits of €925m previously held as bad debt reserves and no longer deemed necessary because of improving loans.

The Irish State owns 99.9% or AIB - the previous Government signaled that it intended to float 25% of this holding during 2016.

Last month this holding was valued at €11.7bn according to new estimates from the NTMA.

 

Reporting from Vincent Wall and Joseph Conroy