As even more shocking revelations are published in the Irish Independent, the blood pressure continues to swell in the veins of taxpayers and Irish citizens throughout the country over the obnoxious, self-serving, egotistical Anglo elite and their self congratulatory, audacious, disdainful, pompous, contempt for the state and the public.
Even though Anglo, in its reinvented guise as the IRBC, was euthanised and put out of its misery in February of this year, its toxic legacy still prevails and lives on in the psyche of the country.
In Tuesday morning’s report, the then CEO of Anglo, David Drumm, takes centre stage urging his troops to show utter contempt and disdain for regulation of the banking sector. He openly mocks the Financial Regulator over his concerns of abuse in the system in the aftermath of the implementation of the guarantee, and calls on staff to, “abuse the Bank Guarantee, don’t get caught…”We won’t do anything blatant, but…we have to get the money in…get the fuckin’ money in, get it in.”
In July of 2008, the then Taoiseach, Brian Cowen and Sean Fitzpatrick, Chairman of Anglo Irish Bank, played a game of golf, where no business or banking matters were seemingly discussed on what was ‘merely’ a social occasion. Two months later, the Anglo tapes conversation between John Bowe and Peter Fitzgerald took place as published the Irish Independent.
The day beforehand, Anglo officials met with the Central Bank and the Financial Regulator and around the same time Sean Fitzpatrick met with Brian Lenihan. Concerns abounded that Anglo had liquidity problems, but Patrick Neary was assured the bank was solvent. In the early hours of the 30th of September five years ago, Anglo was one of the banks covered under the bank guarantee scheme.
The story dominates the papers and broadcast media this morning, with the Irish Times warning that the Government's planned inquiry can’t make findings of individual culpability, in The Star, Terry McGeehan speaks of the seething hostility of the public towards Anglo and the abuse of the state guarantee, and Martina Devlin in the Independent states that emigration is at famine levels, because Anglo lied. The Star also declares that the Anglo tape stars, John Bowe and Peter Fitzgerald, earned a massive €1.2 million euro each in the years after the bank guarantee, it seems all of John Bowes Christmases had come together as he said on tape, “That would be fantastic, if it was nationalisation, we’d keep our jobs,” and they could effectively see out their tenure as quasi civil servants in what became the warm embrace of the IBRC.
On Monday night, Bowe stated that he regretted his language and tone on the phone conversation, but denied he had misled the Central Bank inquiry, however we now hear him recite a satirical rendition of Uber Alles, whilst giving two fingers to the concerns of the British administration.
However contrite, Bowe may believe he is, as it could be argued he was only following orders, ‘Drummer’ however is another thing altogether.
The reckless abandon and utter disregard of the Boss for the stability of the state and impact of Anglos behaviour on the Irish economy is beyond belief. Drumm said in the tape, “we’re (Anglo) going to be around for a long time”, and never a truer word came out of the mouth of a Anglo executive, the pernicious and corrosive legacy of Anglo will haunt this country for generations.
It was disclosed that following meetings between Anglo Irish Bank and the Financial Regulator and The Central Bank, Anglo proposed an emergency loan to the bank of €7 billion euro, which if the information in the public domain now is to believed, was known in advance to not be enough to sustain Anglo. It appears that Anglo knew they could not repay this money and the buck must stop here with the CEO David Drumm, Sean Fitzpatrick, Chairman of Anglo Irish, and to a lesser degree their senior executives and officials, who must have been aware of the ‘strategy’. All indications point to an awareness that the bank did not have ‘liquidity’ problems alone, but that it was in fact for all intents and purposes actually bust and in serious trouble.
Bowe said “that number is seven, but the reality is that we actually need more than that…the strategy here is you pull them in, you get them to write a big cheque and they have to keep, they have to support the money. If they saw the enormity of it up front..they might decide they have a choice…they may say the cost to the taxpayer is too high…if it doesn’t look too high at the outset…then I think we have a chance, so I think it can creep up.” So in essence, the mantra was get the money in, don’t let them know how serious the financial situation is, once we have the bailout, they will be tied into sustaining the bank in perpetuity, and so it has transpired.
The shocking and surreal attitude of the Anglo executives and officials is mind-boggling and reveals a culture of smug Machiavellian manoeuvring by Anglo, unsurpassed in even the darkest of days in our political legacy. But who was monitoring the banks actions, how much did the Government of the day, the Financial Regulator, the auditors and the Central Bank actually know. The Sun newspaper on Tuesday asked, “How come nobody's in jail?” and that is the question on everyone’s mind today. How can such a monumental incident and miscalculation occur without anyone being held to account, nobody being imprisoned, no assets being seized, no lavish pensions being frozen and nobody held to account, five years after the fact. The events that led up to the bank guarantee and the fallout thereafter destroyed the nations economy and sovereignty, imposed unemployment, hardship, negative equity, unwarranted and unnecessary penance and penury on the people.
The bank was clearly not solvent and we now need a robust inquiry that will have the powers to induce all the relevant necessary information and disclosure from all parties involved. The Oireachtas inquiry will require the power of discovery and the ability to compel those at the centre of power during the banking crisis to give full disclosure of the series of events that lead up to the bank guarantee and it’s aftermath, that means we must have detailed accounts from the Taoiseach of the time, Brian Cowen and his cabinet, full disclosure from the civil servants at the centre of the negotiations and transparent and open details of the loan deal from the Financial Regulator, Patrick Neary. This Oireachtas inquiry and/or commission of inquiry must be independent, transparent and free from political manoeuvring and posturing, answers must be achieved, with definitive results and accountability at the end of a swift and speedy process that is cost effective to the taxpayer.
Through the revelations of Anglos behaviour before, during and after the bank guarantee scheme by the Irish Independent, we have seen their utter contempt for the Financial Regulator, the Central Bank and irrefutable arrogance in the face of bank regulation. The boys brigade of the Anglo Elite have been exposed as the chuckle brothers of what we have always expected is an old boys bankers club that thinks it above reproach and answerability to the people of this state. Their casual attitude, cavalier culture, and general mindset, was best exemplified by Paul Williams analogy this morning that, “It was a 2008 version of Gordon Gecko’s ‘Greed is Good’”, philosophy.
* John O'Donovan is a freelance journalist and radio producer. He is a lecturer in Journalism & Media Communication, Griffith College Dublin and IADT Dun Laoghaire.