The former Irish prime minister Brian Cowen is refusing to talk to the press about the Anglo Irish tapes controversy that is currently gripping the nation.
According to the Irish Independent, the retired Fianna Fail leader said this week in a short statement: 'I look forward to cooperating with any banking enquiry process that is established in the future. I have refrained from public comment on matters generally since leaving public life.'
Cowan's remarks were published on the same day as the latest tapes, allegedly recorded just two days after the historic bank bailout, exposed top Anglo officials laughing uproariously as one of them sings the former German national anthem.
When contacted for a response about the anthem singing the German embassy told the Independent they had no comment.
The tapes show that when the bank guarantee that crippled the Irish taxpayer, forcing tens of thousands to emigrate and leading others to despair, was announced in September 2008, there were concerns at the time of a rift with Europe as German money started flowing into the doomed bank.
But Anglo boss David Drumm sounded like he had no concern at all, the tapes reveal. Drumm is heard saying to his then director of treasury John Bowe: 'So f***in' what. Just take it anyway... stick the fingers up.'
In the internal phone call between the two men which was recorded on October 2, 2008, they revel in 'abusing' the bank guarantee.
Bowe sings the bars of the ex German national anthem, delighting a laughing Drumm, who is heard mocking and mimicking a senior Irish regulatory official who had contacted each of them.
Drumm tells Bowe that the official had called him earlier that day. 'I should be recording these calls for the f***ing craic – or at least making notes,' he says.
He then mimics the official’s voice, saying: 'It's f***in' awful what's going on out there. I mean the f***in' Germans are on to us now, David, you know.'
In an apparently self-incriminating scheme that appears to show Drumm knew Anglo Bank was abusing the bank guarantee but was wary about being too obvious about it, Drumm says: 'So I'm playing a little bit of a game of ‘oh Jesus (to the regulatory official), look we don't want you to be under pressure, we're going to do the best we can . . . we won't do anything blatant, but we have to get the money in.'
The guarantee covered all deposits and borrowings, including bondholders, at the six Irish-owned banks for a period of two years.
Senior executives at Anglo also laughed at the prospect of their imploding bank being nationalised, suggesting they could keep their jobs and become civil servants.
Meanwhile Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny has said the Government will initiate a new parliamentary investigation into the banking collapse.
'We will set up our parliamentary inquiry; we will define the set of terms of reference and move on to get accountability and truth in the people’s interest,' he added.
According to the Irish Times Kenny said the tapes had been supplied to the Irish police over four years ago as part of its investigation into matters at the bank. That investigation had led to a number of criminal charges being brought.
The tapes, published by the Irish Independent, showed that senior bank executives both misled the Central Bank about the scale of its financial woes in 2008 and intended to abuse the State bank guarantee.
Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said a comprehensive, independent inquiry was required, but that the Government should reflect on whether it should be a parliamentary inquiry since they could not hold non-officeholders to account.
Fianna Fail Spokesperson for Finance Michael McGrath has said the tape recordings should be referred to the Irish police and to the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE).
'I listened with shock to the tape recording of a conversation in mid-September 2008 between Anglo Irish Bank's then Head of Capital Markets and Director of Retail Banking Peter FitzGerald about the impending bailout of the bank,' McGrath said.
'Any suggestion that the taxpayer was lured into bailing out Anglo Irish Bank under a false impression about the State of the bank's financial condition is deeply disturbing and has to be fully investigated by the authorities. We need to get to the full truth about the way that bank was run and the level of knowledge the bank’s executives had about its true financial position in September 2008.'
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