Gamekeepers turned poachers

Here are some internal Dept of Finance documents on the move of a senior civil servant from the Department of Finance to Bank of Ireland.

Michael Torpey, who was employed on a salary of €200,000-plus annually, was transferred to the NTMA for three months and told not to work in his area of expertise – as part of a ‘cooling off period’.

He was asked not to return to his desk after Christmas because he had agreed to take a job in Bank of Ireland and was instead dispatched to the National Treasury Management Agency where, despite being an expert in banking, he was forbidden from working on any matter relating to it. Mr Torpey had been a key figure in the Department of Finance’s work on the restructuring of banks before being poached by Bank of Ireland late last year. He was due to begin work at the bank this month.

Once he announced his intention to leave his job, the Government insisted on a three-month ‘cooling off period’ funded by the taxpayer, according to documents released under Freedom of Information legislation. Mr Torpey’s move to Bank of Ireland caused concern in the Department of Finance, where there were issues raised over a possible conflict of interest.

Sinn Fein’s Pearse Doherty has raised questions over the move pointing out that Fine Gael had committed itself to a two-year cooling off period for senior civil servants moving to the private sector. He explained: ‘Michael Torpey – and I don’t want to cast aspersions on him personally – as head of state shareholder management unit had very sensitive information on all of the banks and now he has a senior appointment with Bank of Ireland.

“He has information on AIB – they are a direct competitor. And now to take up an executive position in a rival bank leads to all sorts of problems and all sorts of issues.”

The Department of Finance had said Mr Torpey would be subject to the provisions of the Official Secrets Act. But as Doherty said: “There is no “Men in Black” style machine to wipe his memory and say forget everything you knew.”

Elaine Byrne has also been looking at this area and published an interesting report on the increasingly frequent nature of such moves.

Documents obtained:

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