DISGRACED former Anglo Irish Bank executive John Bowe attended a prestigious education course which was funded by the taxpayer.
The Irish Independent has learnt the Department of Education paid the €5,500 enrolment fee for Mr Bowe, who was officially registered as unemployed, to participate in the government-sponsored Springboard programme.
The educational programme is aimed at highly qualified professional people who lost their jobs and businesses following the banking collapse.
The former head of treasury at Anglo is now infamous for claiming he plucked a €7bn bailout figure "out of my arse".
Mr Bowe also sang a "comedy" version of the anthem 'Deutschland Uber Alles' and talked about giving "two fingers" to British concerns about the bank guarantee.
Now it has emerged that he was one of 70 students who got taxpayer-funded enrolment in the eight-month Business Innovation Programme at the DCU Ryan Academy in Citywest which began last September.
According to the banker's former classmates, the once high-flying executive kept to himself and never revealed that he had worked in the bank that broke Ireland.
Mr Bowe's fellow students only realised who he was when the Irish Independent began publishing the 'Anglo Tapes' investigation last month.
"Everyone on the course was shocked to discover that the man featuring in the tapes was the same John Bowe who had sat with us in class since last September," said one former student.
"All of us who took part in the course had high-end jobs until the banking collapse caused the economic crash. There were countless class discussions about how the banks caused the collapse and we shared individual stories of losing jobs and businesses.
"He listened to our stories for months but never engaged in the debates . . . he tended to keep to himself and didn't socialise with the group or develop any friendships.
"I suppose now we know why – he and his colleagues in Anglo were part of the reason why most of us were there."
Mr Bowe's classmate spoke to the Irish Independent but did not wish to be publicly identified.
The part-time third-level course, which ran until April this year, is designed to help unemployed and previously self-employed people to upskill or acquire new skills to return to work or start up new businesses.
In order to be eligible, candidates must be registered as unemployed and in receipt of payments from the Department of Social Protection.
Successful applicants are selected after an interview process and must also have high-level professional and academic qualifications.
In March, the course participants were given three-month unpaid placements with major companies where they were tasked with carrying out a management project. Each student had to produce a detailed report which was handed in for academic assessment in May.
Mr Bowe was assigned to the international accountancy and business consultants Grant Thornton.
According to sources, he was involved in the implementation of a records management system at the company.
A spokesman for Grant Thornton confirmed that Mr Bowe had worked with them. He told the Irish Independent: "John Bowe was at Grant Thornton for 12 weeks on a part-time, unpaid work placement project between February and April 2013. The project related to internal office efficiencies, and is now completed."
Over the past two months the Irish Independent Anglo Tapes investigation has published several recorded telephone conversations between Mr Bowe and his colleagues in Anglo Irish Bank between 2007 and 2009.
The tapes have clearly showed how senior executives, including CEO David Drumm, were deliberately covering up the fact that they were headed for collapse at least a year before the infamous government bank guarantee.
And they revealed how Anglo executives, including Mr Bowe, had misled the Central Bank and Department of Finance when they asked for a bailout loan in the days leading up to the guarantee. Mr Bowe's comment that he had plucked the €7bn figure "out of my arse" went all over the world.
The Springboard programme was introduced in 2011 as part of the Government's Jobs Initiative and offers tailor-made third-level courses designed to upskill participants to find high- end jobs in growth areas of the economy.
Financed by the Department of Education, the programme provides 200 courses at 38 Institutes of Technology, Universities and privately-run higher education colleges.
So far 10,000 people have enrolled in Springboard courses and 40pc are reported to be back in work six months after completion.
The DCU Ryan Academy offers level 7, 8 and 9 business programmes designed to provide unemployed professionals with "new innovation and managerial skills".
Participants typically come from a variety of backgrounds including accountancy, architecture, finance, sales and marketing, engineering and former owner managers.
More than 70pc of students in the 2011 programme ultimately gained employment or started new ventures while 56pc did so in 2012.