Lenihan’s new powers on show as reporters excluded from AIB hearing

The extent of the “sweeping new powers” granted to Brian Lenihan earlier this week to deal with the banking crisis became clear this morning when journalists were banned from court during an application by the finance minister.

It was widely reported this morning that the minister planned to apply for permission to invest €3.7 billion in AIB.

RTÉ has reported that the new funds will ultimately raise the State’s stake in the troubled bank to 92 percent.

Or at least, we think so. All that was actually said in open court was that the minister wished to make “an application” regarding “a financial institution”.

Mary Carolan, a court reporter with the Irish Times, sought an adjournment so that journalists could apply to be present for the hearing, but Ms Justice Maureen Clark refused the application.

Irish Times correspondent Simon Carswell said on twitter that the “Judge said she would negate Lenihan’s powers if she allowed media to make case for public hearing of Minister’s app. Powerful new law this.”

The application was heard in camera (behind closed doors) on the grounds of “extreme commercial sensitivity”.

The hearing was “done and dusted” in under one and a half hours.

UPDATE: Following the order, the minister issued an order under the Credit Institutions (Stabilisation) Act 2010, which allowed him to provide capital so that AIB might meet its Central Bank mandated capital requirement by the end of the year.

The High Court has ordered AIB to delist from the Dublin and London stock exchanges.

The bank is now effectively nationalised. NAMA winelake, a blog dedicated to chronicling the activities of the National Asset Management Agency and related issues, speculated three days ago that AIB could be insolvent.