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Friday 29 August 2014

Filling in the blanks – the questions that remain unanswered

Ed Carty

Published 18/04/2014 | 02:30

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Former Anglo CFO Matt Moran, who was a witness in the trial
Former Anglo CFO Matt Moran, who was a witness in the trial

THE landmark Anglo Irish Bank trial wasn't quite the anticipated six-month legal slog but thanks to its limited scope, the public may well be forgiven for wanting more answers.

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Where do we go from here?

Patience is a virtue. It's only been five years since Anglo went bust. Other prosecutions are pending.

And there's also a parliamentary banking inquiry, due to start within months, looking at the controversial bank guarantee of September 30 2008, the regulatory regime and the workings of bailed-out banks. No former banker can be forced to attend.

There will also be industry disciplinary hearings for Anglo directors once the small matter of criminal trials are done and dusted.

What are Contracts for Difference (CfD)?

Legendary investor Warren Buffett called them weapons of mass destruction. And that's the effect the trades – a unique, unregulated trading derivative – had on Sean Quinn and Anglo. Essentially, he signed deals with nine brokers, taking a secret gamble with 25pc of Anglo's stock that the share price would rise. Using CfDs, you never own the share but you could profit by multiples of your initial investment if the value goes up. It didn't.

Why did Anglo lose so much on it?

As Quinn's stake became known in late 2007, the bank pumped hundreds of millions his way to cover brokers' demands to pay for losses because the share price was tanking. He also needed money as the losses were bleeding parts of his business empire dry. It totalled €2.4bn.

We heard lots of people knew about this deal, so why was no-one else on trial?

Two Anglo directors got immunity – Matt Moran, the chief financial officer at the time.

You might remember his colourful language from the Anglo tapes controversy when recorded calls at the bank were published by this newspaper and independent.ie.

And Fiachre O'Neill, appointed head of compliance in 2007 despite, he said, telling his bosses he had no experience on that front. The author of the deal David Drumm is in America.

Did the judge have a pop at anyone?

Not really. On the flip side though Judge Martin Nolan went as far as to praise the band of elite customers who agreed to take loans to help unwind Quinn's stake – the Maple 10.

He described the developers as remarkable men who wanted to help the bank and genuinely thought the deal was good for the country. The judge said Drumm was "a man who knew his own mind and a dynamic man".

Did I hear talk about a sleeve and the dribble?

You sure did. Project Sleeve and the Dribble Mechanism to be precise. Two of the plays tried by Anglo in 2008 to unwind the Quinn CfDs by offering stakes to blue chip banks in Holland, sovereign wealth funds in the Middle East and venture capitalists in the US, as well as considering simply drip feeding the shares on to the market.

Irish Independent

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