David Drumm: ‘There is a witch hunt ... I convince myself that this will pass’
An Irish Central exclusive interview with the former Anglo Irish Bank boss now in US
DD: It was a collective madness and it was a classic bubble. But being Irish we convinced ourselves we had something unique. That Ireland had finally arrived, we used to talk about the standard of living, you know we were only playing catch up, rather than booming. So it was just that Ireland was finally finding it’s place in Europe. So many of the people I knew over here (U.S.) would go in the early 2000’s to Dublin and say ‘what the hell, you people need to get a grip with what you are paying for land, bananas.'
When Ireland was in the punt you know your access to funding, as a financial institution was really restricted. Too much access, nobody saw the dangers from the political through to the people managing the banks, through the estate agents, the lawyers, who by the way, the lawyers who closed all these loans are the same people who are chasing me now. They were all in there, everybody including me believed it.
NOD: After the bankruptcy hearing ends, what are you going to do then?
DD: I will just try to rebuild.
NOD: Are you able to stay in the States?
DD: Yeah and I would like to. There are good opportunities here and good opportunities for my family.
NOD: Is that through the investment visa?
DD: No, I have a job here, so I have a full employment visa, contrary to what they report in the media,so the visa is not the issue. Time is the issue, but these things are mind numbingly difficult, just trying to balance the time constraints.
These days having a job is a huge thing. You need to hold on to it, I need to hold onto mine. Trying to fight the other fires, I have to do both, I am not moaning, I just have to do both. If the day comes, and I have to hope that it will, that I will not have that burden. I could devote myself more to my job, even though I give it everything I have got.
NOD: What do you say as one of the most reviled people in the media in Ireland, what do you say to people in Ireland that they need to know about you?
DD: That during 2008, it’s the year that matters at this stage. I worked as hard as I could. I did my best working with regulators and with the bank and the board, all of us did. There are people in the regulator and in the central bank that would feel that same way, that they tried their best within their own ability to fix things. I wish I could have done more, I wish I knew more, I wish I was better than what I was. But I did try my best. All the time I was trying to protect the bank, I had 15years of that attitude, that didn’t change, it became even more intense in me when I became CEO, so I was doing my job and doing my best and I failed and of course I regret it.
I was looking after the bank because it was my responsibility but my partners saw it in the bigger picture.
NOD: For people in Ireland,a lot of the negativity is about the big house you lived inhere, the optics of it all.
DD: The so-called mansion, we purchased that house at the end of 2007. I was earning a lot of money in the bank. You think that the world is not going to end, the way it did. It was kind of the one extravagant thing that we did. We did absolutely love it. We loved Cape Cod and Chatham and saw ourselves coming back there. In the rear view mirror, spending that kind of money on a house, I just wouldn’t do it again. But you have got to look at it though the lens of the time.
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