Business Anglo Tapes

Thursday 28 August 2014

Drumm breaks silence in US to say 'sorry' on Anglo

Breda Heffernan

Published 01/07/2013 | 05:00

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FORMER Anglo chief executive David Drumm has denied there was any attempt by the bank to mislead the Central Bank and the regulator about the state of its financial woes.

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Mr Drumm insisted the banking authorities were "all too intimately aware of just how critical things were" when a colleague, John Bowe, admitted to picking a figure of €7bn for a loan from the Central Bank "out of my arse".

The former banker has been caught in a maelstrom of bad press since the Irish Independent revealed the contents of the Anglo Tapes, which led to German Chancellor Angela Merkel saying she had "contempt" for senior Anglo figures' actions.

Mr Drumm admitted he was embarrassed by the recordings, which showed him laughing as the bank haemorrhaged money and joking "another day, another billion" and giggling as a colleague mockingly sang "Deutschland uber alles".

Despite acknowledging there was "no excuse" for the frivolous tone of his comments, Mr Drumm defended himself in an interview with the 'Sunday Business Post', saying he was under a lot of pressure at the time.

Speaking to a journalist in the US, where Mr Drumm fled in 2009 following the collapse of Anglo, he said he apologised to those who were offended by his comments. The reporter, Irish-American journalist Niall O'Dowd, said Mr Drumm had been given legal advice not to return to Ireland. "I accept that the tone and language used in the tapes is inappropriate, and I fully understand why the excerpts published have offended many people," Mr Drumm said.

"Listening to a recording made almost five years ago at a highly stressful and volatile, uncertain time is both embarrassing and a shocking reminder of how much pressure my colleagues and I were under," he added.

"However, there is no excuse for the terrible language or the frivolous tone, and I sincerely regret the offence it has caused. I cannot change this now, but I can apologise to those who had to listen to it, " said Mr Drumm.

Speaking to Mr O'Dowd, founder of IrishCentral.com, Mr Drumm said he first learned about the Anglo Tapes after logging on to the independent.ie website a week ago today.

"I knew they were bad, bad, bad," the former banker said of the revelations.

However, Mr Drumm, pictured left, said the excerpts "beg more questions than they answer" and suggest an "incorrect interpretation about how and why the Government issued a blanket guarantee in September 2008."

He said at no time did Anglo request the Central Bank or the regulator to ask the Government to issue a blanket bank guarantee for all of the Irish banks' liabilities – and that Anglo's request was for a loan facility of €7bn secured on its loan book.

"The tapes are being represented by some sections of the Irish media as 'proof' that some form of misrepresentation took place on behalf of Anglo Irish Bank," he added.

In a conversation with a colleague, John Bowe, Anglo's acting director of treasury, was asked how he had arrived at the €7bn figure, to which he replied, "Just, as Drummer (Mr Drumm) would say, 'picked it out of my arse.'"

Asked last week if this recording proved Anglo knew the final bill would be much higher, Mr Drumm told Mr O'Dowd: "The excerpts from the tapes appear to suggest that this figure was arbitrary, but this is inaccurate and supported by the submissions to the Central Bank at that time.

"There was no attempt whatsoever to conceal the extent of the cash-flow problems from the Central Bank and the regulator."

Irish Independent

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