Anglo executive’s five-star escape
THIS is shamed Anglo executive Peter Fitzgerald being confronted by the Herald while living it up in the south of France.
The man at the centre of the Anglo tapes controversy is staying at a five-star resort while the country seethes after hearing the explosive recordings in which he features.
The Herald tracked Fitzgerald to the exclusive Le Brasilia campsite in the picturesque town of Canet En Roussillon.
When asked if he had anything to say about the scandal, Fitzgerald said that he “regrets the tones of the conversations”.
However, he added: “I wasn't part of the senior executive of the bank at the time and that's all I can say on the matter.”
Fitzgerald featured in tapes released by the Irish Independent on Monday, in which he is in conversation with John Bowe.
In their recorded telephone conversation, which took place on September 18, 2008, the pair discussed how the Central Bank had been told by Bowe that Anglo Irish Bank needed €7bn.
Fitzgerald asks where the figure came from, to which Bowe replied: “Just as Drummer [David Drumm] would say, ‘Picked it out of my a***'.”
It was Fitzgerald that suggested the Central Bank would have “skin in the game” when he was told by Bowe that the figure of €7bn would not be enough to bail out Anglo, that the figure required would be much higher.
Both men described the prospect of Anglo being nationalised as “fantastic”, as they believed this would allow them to keep their jobs and become civil servants.
Bowe had been involved in negotiations with the Central Bank. Fitzgerald had not been involved in negotiations and has said he was unaware of any strategy or intention to mislead the authorities.
It emerged today that Fitzgerald has stepped down from his current position as boss of a counselling association.
The Irish Association of Alcohol and Addiction Counsellors said in an email that the ex-Anglo man had “tendered his resignation yesterday”.
He was interim chef executive with the organisation. “In his resignation, Peter conveyed his best wishes to the organisation in the important work being undertaken,” the email said.
Fitzgerald was working for IBRC, the renamed Anglo Irish Bank, until February of this year.
Last night, Transport Minister Leo Varadkar described the revelations in the tapes as “stomach-churning”.
Mr Varadkar said he was struck by the “arrogance, the avarice and the absolute contempt for the public authorities” displayed by some executives.
As the controversy over the tapes raged at home and in Germany, the Herald found Fitzgerald staying in a luxury bungalow with his family.
When asked if he had anything to say to the people of Ireland about the tapes and his role in the conversations he hesitated, took a breath, and said: “I've issued a statement”. The Herald put it to Fitzgerald that the parliamentary leader of Angela Merkel's CDU party in Germany had said the Anglo tapes were “disgusting” and asked Fitzgerald to make a comment on the issue. “I've already put forward my statement,” he said again.
We observed him dining in the resort's restaurant and enjoying the musical entertainment. He appeared to be unrecognised by anyone else.
Anglo's former Director of Retail Banking wore a heavy arm brace and frequently checked his smartphone throughout the evening.
Dressed in a blue T-shirt and white shorts, he was then joined for a short time by his family before they went back to their chalet for the night.
Conor Feehan in Canet En Roussillon