Monday 24 July 2017

Cowen admits cash put into bank gone forever

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor

TAOISEACH Brian Cowen last night finally admitted the €22bn of taxpayers' money being pumped into Anglo Irish Bank won't ever be seen again.

Mr Cowen was repeatedly quizzed by opposition leaders on the view of the nationalised bank's chairman that the "lion's share" of the €22bn was gone.

"That money is not going to be returned," he eventually replied after being asked the question four times. Anglo chairman Mike Aynsley made the startling admission last week that the capital injection would "never be seen again".

Anglo has already sent €9.3bn in loans in its first tranche transfer to the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) and will send another €26.3bn before the end of the year. A discount of 50pc is expected across the whole debt pile.

"That money is not recoverable," Mr Aynsley said, adding: "That money is gone."

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny and Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore put pressure on Mr Cowen to say if he agreed with this assessment.

Avoiding the question, the Taoiseach repeatedly said the recapitalisation of the banks was necessary where there were not enough shareholders' funds.

Mr Gilmore came back again asking if the money was gone. "Don't give me argument, don't give me where you were right, and where I was wrong and where Deputy Kenny was wrong, and where everyone else was wrong apart from yourself; just give us an answer to that question -- is the money gone?" he said.

Analysis

Mr Cowen ultimately agreed with Mr Aynsley's analysis.

"They are the losses being taken on by the taxpayer; and it is clear in relation to that bank that that is the situation.

"That money is not going to be returned because clearly the shareholders' funds have been inadequate to meet the losses," he said.

Mr Kenny said Mr Cowen had made a personal promise to the Irish people in October 2008 -- at the time of the bank guarantee scheme -- that they would not be held accountable for the banking bailout.

He questioned why the Government was now borrowing vast sums to pay off Anglo debts while professional shareholders weren't being asked to share the pain. "It makes absolutely no sense for the Government to continue with the policy of borrowing money to put into a black hole," he said.

Mr Kenny said creating employment was the only way out of the crisis.

"Money could be borrowed for that instead," the Fine Gael leader insisted.

Irish Independent

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