A SENIOR banker at the Central Bank will be paid more than €120,000 for effectively doing nothing whilst on ‘garden leave’ from the bank.
Cyril Roux, who announced he was quitting his job as deputy governor in February to work in the private sector, was told his services would not be required for more than four months.
However, his €310,000 salary will continue to be paid throughout the period and even as Mr Roux asked that he be allowed continue to fulfil his duties.
Mr Roux’s salary per month works out at €25,833, which he will get in its entirety during the months of May, June, July, August, and for three weeks of April. Altogether, that means salary payments of just over €122,000 for no work.
Mr Roux was not entirely happy with the arrangement, according to copies of correspondence obtained under FOI.
He wrote to governor Philip Lane saying: “The notice period approach you have chosen is more stringent than the one which applied to my immediate predecessor.
“This approach may also give rise to questions about not requiring work of a highly paid and skilled employee willing and able to do so.”
However, the Central Bank believed the long “cooling off period” was required to avoid any perceived conflict of interest.
The records show how Mr Roux was allowed continue in a limited role from March 1 until April 7 after announcing his departure in late February.
He was allowed work on three files: industry levies, an annual performance statement, and advice on financial regulation.
He was also let keep his office and attend general management meetings, but was told he had to step down from the supervisory board of the European Central Bank and some internal committees.
In a letter to governor Philip Lane agreeing to the conditions, Mr Roux wrote: “You have decided to put me on full garden leave from April 8 to August 31, as my contract allows. During that full garden leave period, you will relieve me of all remaining duties and responsibilities, including that of reporting to the office.
“However, I will stay on as an employee of the Central Bank up to August 31 and will be paid my salary in full every month.”
Mr Roux said this length of garden leave was “unprecedented” but agreed that it was being done to avoid “any risk of controversy”.
He wrote: “Your view is that such an approach is best suited to address public concern in Europe about subsequent private employment of high-ranking public officials.
“I acknowledge these reasons and recognise that the Bank can put me on such a full garden leave unilaterally if it wishes, even if I would rather work than not during my notice period.”
Mr Roux was also at pains to make clear that this long ‘garden leave’ period was no reflection on him.
He wrote: “We have agreed to ensure that nothing we do or say could be interpreted as a concern, of which there is none, about the specific circumstances, about the specific firm I would join nor about my integrity or performance, or a desire from me to benefit from paid leave.”
In a short response, Philip Lane wrote to confirm that he was indeed invoking the “garden leave provisions” of the contract.
He said: “I confirm that the application of garden leave is at the discretion of the Bank and is considered on a case by case basis at the time of making each relevant decision. The six months’ notice arises from the relevant contractual provision, which applies in this particular case.”
The Central Bank said “garden leave” was standard practice for the European Central Bank and for central banks elsewhere.
They said: “Such periods, which are also called ‘cooling off periods’ are necessary in ensuring that actual or perceived conflicts of interest, including post-employment conflicts of interest, are avoided or minimised.”
Their Code of Ethics allows the Central Bank to assign staff to alternative duties if their new employment is likely to cause conflict.
They said: “In the case of Mr Roux, his contract, due to the role he holds, specifically provides for garden leave. It is at the Central Bank’s discretion to decide on the appropriate period of garden leave, taking the role and circumstances into account.
“Mr Roux’s contract provides that he is paid his base salary for the duration of this period. He will take all of his annual leave entitlements (which equate to one third of the time) during this period, meaning no untaken annual leave-related pay will arise at the end of his garden leave.
“No other entitlements arise and he may not work for another employer during the relevant period.”