Secret recordings of Irish Anglo bank executives enrages country - John Bowe and Peter Fitzgerald laugh about €7 billion and never paying it back

John Bowe: one of the two disgraced
former bankers in Anglo recording.
A secret recording of two senior Irish bank executives discussing lying to the government's financial regulator about the true extent of its losses has gone public after the damning tapes were leaked to leading newspaper The Irish Independent.

However, the two former executives at the center of the controversy, John Bowe, then head of capital markets at the bank, and Peter Fitzgerald, director of retail banking, have already denied misleading the Central Bank, or being involved in the decision making process prior to the bank's bailout.

The bank had told the Central Bank that €7 billion would be needed to stabilize the bank, but the recording shows that executives were aware that the real figure was in fact higher than that, a figure which was ultimately borne by the taxpayer.

The recording also shows the senior bankers laughing at the impossibility of the bank ever being in a position to pay back its massive financial burden: "The €7bn is bridged until we can pay you back .. which is never!" one banker can be heard saying.

In an anecdote relating to an earlier meeting with the Financial Regulator discussed early on in the conversation, Bowe recalls the Regulator's response to the executives' announcement of the funding they were seeking as being "Jesus, that's a lot of dosh!".

When Fitzgerald asks Bowe how the Central Bank bailout figure was derived at, the latter responds "as Drummer [CEO David Drumm] would say, 'I pull it out of my arse.'"

Later Bowe clearly shows that he -- and other Anglo executives -- were aware that the initial €7bn bailout would not be enough to forestall the bank's demise, saying "that number [given to the Central Bank] is €7bn but the reality is we need more than that."

The executive said that if the Irish government were aware of the enormity of the bill to the taxpayers, they likely wouldn't approve the bailout, but that if the bank intentionally under-stated the extent of its liabilities, that they might "stand a chance."

Commenting on the revelation this morning, Prime Minister Enda Kenny said that he was "constrained" in what he could say because of ongoing investigations into the matter, but added that he fully "understood" the public's rage.

The Government has already passed legislation necessary to undertake a banking inquiry, but the Taoiseach said that the sheer volume of material to be studied had left government perplexed as to how best to carry one out: over one million pages of internal documents and hundreds of hours of tape recordings would potentially have to be studied, a mammoth task even by lengthy Irish tribunal standards.

Solicitors for the bank unsuccessfully attempted to suppress the recording, according to RTÉ, claiming that no person had been authorized to leak the material.

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