Saturday 3 December 2016

Drury 'didn't discuss Anglo over golf and dinner with Cowen'

Published 31/07/2015 | 02:30

Fintan Drury
Fintan Drury

Former director of Anglo Irish Bank Fintan Drury insisted he had never discussed the bank's affairs with his close friend, former Taoiseach Brian Cowen.

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Mr Drury admitted that even some of his friends found this "lacking in credibility" which he could understand, but no such discussions had taken place.

The former non-executive director of Anglo told the Banking Inquiry there was never any "material discussion" about the affairs of the bank at an Anglo board dinner attended by himself and Mr Cowen, nor at a golf outing with Anglo chairman Sean FitzPatrick

He also said his friendship with the former Taoiseach had to be curtailed in the past year because a percentage of people who would "think we were up to no good".

At a dinner on April 24, 2008, just weeks after a collapse in Anglo shares, Mr Drury said the topics were nothing "remarkable".

Mr Drury explained the former Taoiseach was the latest in a line of people to be invited to such occasions by the bank, and the emphasis was always firmly on it being a social occasion.

The golf outing at Druids Glen had been arranged after Mr Drury had pointed out to the former Taoiseach the value of having smart people around the table to discuss economic issues and get outside perspective.

Before the game Mr Drury and Mr Cowen had a private meeting with Mr FitzPatrick, Smurfit Kappa chief executive Gary McGann and economist Alan Gray, who was a director of the Central Bank.

Mr Gray had brought an agenda and it was likely he still had a copy, he said.

Influence

At no point was there a discussion about Anglo, he added. He insisted the event was "nothing to do with Anglo Irish Bank".

While most people there had a link to the bank, the majority also "had completely separate roles, with the exception of Sean FitzPatrick".

Pressed by inquiry members about undue influence on the Taoiseach in relation to Anglo, Mr Drury stressed that he had privileged access to the Taoiseach as his friend. If he had wanted to influence him to take a particular view on Anglo, he said: "I could have gone to see him, walked into his office and had a conversation."

He also told the inquiry that there was absolutely no discussion about the possibility of a bank guarantee or a request to the NTMA to move funds into the ailing Anglo.

Mr Drury described a few days after the Anglo share collapse on March 17, 2008, how Mr FitzPatrick had phoned him to ask if he thought Mr Cowen would take a call about the ongoing liquidity issue.

Mr Cowen was overseas but Mr Drury had contacted him and explained the situation. Mr Drury said Mr Cowen said he needed to talk first to the governor of the Central Bank - and he confirmed a short time later he had done that and the governor would deal with the matter.

Asked if he had been concerned that most of the loans from Anglo were held by a very small number of clients, he responded: "Not particularly."

Mr Drury also said that when the bank's liquidity came under pressure over businessman Sean Quinn's Contracts for Difference in 2007, Anglo had immediately informed the Financial Regulator.

Irish Independent

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