Saturday 23 September 2017

Latest recordings capture new reference to Cowen

Mention of the then Taoiseach in waiting may offer a link to private dinner with Anglo, say Tom Lyons and Gavin Sheridan

Former Taoiseach Brian Cowen, who has generally refrained from public comment since leaving public life, has said he 'looks forward to co-operating with any banking enquiry'
Former Taoiseach Brian Cowen, who has generally refrained from public comment since leaving public life, has said he 'looks forward to co-operating with any banking enquiry'

Tom Lyons and Gavin Sheridan

It is a tantalising moment in the Anglo Tapes. John Bowe is in conversation with a fellow banker. It is a run-of-the-mill crisis conversation. Early on in it, Bowe states: "David called and he just kind of updated me on Cowen and the board meeting."

The timing of the call is around April 24, 2008, when Brian Cowen, then the Minister for Finance and officially the Taoiseach-in-waiting, had a private dinner with Anglo in Heritage House, a townhouse the bank owned beside its headquarters on St Stephen's Green. Mr Cowen was invited to the dinner by Fintan Drury, his old college friend and a director of Anglo.

At the dinner, Mr Cowen was briefed by all the senior people in Anglo on what they felt were the challenges facing the bank and Anglo.

This first mention of Mr Cowen in the Anglo Tapes, however, does not make it clear if Bowe is definitively referring to this dinner or was Drumm "updating" him on another matter in relation to Cowen.

The mention of Mr Cowen in the Anglo Tapes is the fourth time he has featured in relation to the bank. Alongside the tapes and the dinner, he is also known to have received a phone call from the bank on March 16, 2008, when Bear Stearns, an American investment bank, collapsed sending Anglo's share price into freefall.

Mr Cowen was staying in the five-star Shangri La Hotel in Kuala Lumpur at the time. Cowen also played a game of golf and then went for dinner with senior Anglo figures on July 28, 2008.

Earlier this month, Mr Cowen was quizzed by the Evening Herald on his reaction to the Anglo Tapes.

"I look forward to co-operating with any banking enquiry process that is established in the future," Mr Cowen said. "I have refrained from public comment on matters generally since leaving public life."

Irish Independent

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