Anglo Irish Bank – a public authority?

Readers may recall that at the start of this year we submitted two Environmental Information Regulations requests (EIRs, not FOIs). One was sent to the National Asset Management Agency and the other was sent to Anglo Irish Bank Corporation Limited – the nationalised bank. Both organisations replied by saying that they did not consider themselves to be public authorities for the purposes of the Regulations.

I have already blogged extensively about our argument with NAMA, that we believe it is clearly a public authority for the purposes of the Regulations. For a chronological look through that argument try these links

NAMA denies status as a public authority April 21, 2010
NAMA submission April 22, 2010
NAMA status June 30, 2010
Is NAMA a public authority July 27, 2010
NAMA reply August 1, 2010
The NAMA saga continues September 27, 2010

We are now awaiting a binding decision by the Office of the Commissioner for Environmental Information in relation to NAMA’s status as a public authority for the purposes of the Regulations.

Events have also now moved forward in relation to Anglo Irish Bank. In February this year I started the process by seeking information from Anglo in relation to its loan book, and to the travel expenses of its executives. Anglo denied it was a public authority and I appealed the decision to the OCEI. I have now received a copy of Anglo Irish Bank’s submission to the OCEI giving its legal argument as to why it believes it is not a public authority.

However, Anglo has sought to exert confidentiality over its 16-page legal submission (a copy of which I and the OCEI have), stating that the submission contains:

details of the management of the bank, its relationship with the Minister for Finance and the relationship framework established under the Anglo Irish Bank Corporation Act 2009 constitute confidential management information which should not be disclosed further than is necessary for the purposes of dealing with the appeal to the Commissioner

The OCEI have stated that they have not formed a view on the status of the information contained in the submission. However with the help of a very dedicated individual we have now drafted and completed our reply to Anglo’s submission. We will be publishing our submission shortly. We are unsure as to the status of Anglo’s submission in legal terms – but will seek advice from OCEI about whether we have a legitimate right to publish their submission.

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