independent

Saturday 19 April 2014

Anglo Tapes a shock to us all, says former bank chief

Mike Aynsley
Mike Aynsley

THE Anglo Tapes were shocking, former Anglo Irish Bank chief executive Mike Aynsley has admitted.

"I was shocked by them frankly. We hadn't heard all the tapes," Mr Aynsley told TV3 yesterday.

Reacting to the revelations in the tapes published by the Irish Independent in recent weeks, he added: "We hadn't heard these particular tapes (before). It was a bit of surprise."

The former chief executive said the culture at Anglo was one of the biggest problems at the lender when he joined in 2009, following the government's decision to nationalise Anglo earlier that year.

Changing this culture was probably the most difficult challenge of Mr Aynsley's three-and-a-half-year stint at the bank, he added. There was a "continuing flow of difficult internal problems," he said.

Mr Aynsley and former chairman Alan Dukes "determined that we needed to change the vast majority" of executives after joining the bank. Mr Aynsley said he still expects the collapse of Anglo to cost between €25bn and €28bn.

However, he insisted Anglo was only part of the reason for the financial crisis.

"This wasn't just an Anglo Irish problem. It was a systemic problem," the Australian said.

While admitting that the bank was a contributor to the bust, he also blamed political leaders and a "weak regulatory environment" in Ireland.

"It's like hosting a 21-year-old's birthday party. Nobody wants to come and say 'go home'," he added.

Mr Aynsley acknowledged his relationship with the Department of Finance was "testy" at times. He said some politicians seemed to object to the bank's efforts to force some borrowers to repay loans.

Both chief executive and chairman were told just hours before the Government decided to liquidate the bank earlier this year.

Meanwhile, Mr Dukes, a former Fine Gael finance minister, defended some lending by Anglo, saying the bank had made good loans as well as bad loans.

Asked whether the special liquidation agreed in a dramatic late night debate in the Dail in February would force a so-called fire sale of cheap property, both men disagreed and said the liquidator plans to sell property in a careful manner.

Irish Independent

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