The Press

Pressure rises for Orr investigat­ion

- Kate MacNamara

The Reserve Bank has received at least two requests to further investigat­e a pattern of alleged hectoring and bullying behaviour by governor Adrian Orr towards his critics.

Former Reserve Bank employee Geof Mortlock emailed board chairman Neil Quigley last week, asking the board to ‘‘take note of and investigat­e’’ concerns raised recently about Orr’s conduct. Reserve Bank watcher and former employee Michael Reddell also submitted a formal letter to the board and posted it on his blog croakingca­ssandra. Reddell, who left the bank in 2015, asked the board to conduct, ‘‘a serious review of the allegation­s’’.

Both communicat­ions referred to recent Stuff reports that highlighte­d concerns of allegedly bullying behaviour by Orr toward the bank’s critics in his fight to increase capital reserves for commercial banks. Last December, the Reserve Bank released its boosted capital reserves proposal and asked interested parties to make submission­s. Orr characteri­sed the process as open; however, some parties involved in the process believe openness was compromise­d by the governor’s conduct.

In an emailed reply to Stuff’s questions, Quigley said the board discussed the correspond­ence at its meeting last week, and ‘‘[we] have no further public comment to make’’. He also noted, ‘‘the role of the board is to keep the performanc­e of the bank and the governor under constant review. That is what we do at our meetings and in other contexts’’.

‘‘As a matter of personal privacy I cannot discuss the details of our assessment­s of the governor’s performanc­e with you.’’

The Reserve Bank appears to have pared back Orr’s public engagement­s in recent weeks in light of the unfolding controvers­y. In at least two instances, including yesterday’s Institute of Financial Profession­als NZ conference, assistant governor Christian Hawkesby has been substitute­d where Orr was originally committed to speak.

Earlier in the month, the bank issued an unusual public statement after questions were put to Quigley about the governor’s conduct. ‘‘Sometimes we make difficult decisions that are unpalatabl­e for a few, but we do that with the many in mind,’’ the bank said.

‘‘We are not looking to win votes or accolades – we do what’s right for the good of all New Zealanders for today, tomorrow and for generation­s to come.’’

Mortlock said his email did not constitute a complaint. He said he wanted to draw the board’s attention to an assortment of concerns, including what he described as Orr’s pattern of behaviour as well as a range of Reserve Bank policy positions.

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