independent

Friday 18 April 2014

RTE stars, judges and rugby elite who owe Anglo millions

Bank's list of high-profile people who borrowed hundreds of millions

The former headquarters of Anglo Irish Bank
The former headquarters of Anglo Irish Bank

RUGBY players, RTE stars, musicians, judges and some of the country's senior legal professionals were among the people placed on a list of "sensitive" borrowers compiled by the former Anglo Irish Bank.

The Irish Independent has learnt that the High Profile Persons (HPP) review, presented to the board of Anglo on a quarterly basis after it was nationalised in 2009, also includes an outspoken TD, accountants, stockbrokers, developers and more than 60 prominent businessmen.

The almost exclusively male high-profile borrowers review -- also known as a "politically exposed persons" or PEP list -- includes up to 20 former Anglo staff members who had borrowed money from the bank.

One former rugby player had more than €50m in borrowings; and a senior counsel owed at least €30m to Anglo (now known as IBRC) before it was liquidated last year.

A number of senior UK businessmen owed almost €1bn to Anglo.

The review of sensitive or "politically exposed" borrowers was carried out by a dedicated team of directors and senior managers following a review of loan portfolios by a credit committee.

Many of the loans were performing -- where interest or capital was being repaid -- at the time the bank was liquidated.

But other loans were impaired and some debtors could not agree a repayment strategy with the lender.

The list of names included a series of property syndicates which included judges, barristers, solicitors, surgeons and other professionals.

Several members of staff from Arthur Cox -- the magic-circle law firm that advised the State and key agencies on the bank guarantee, the nationalisation of Anglo and recapitalisations and restructuring plans -- were classified as HPPs by Anglo.

Arthur Cox was appointed by the Fianna Fail-led government to advise on the banking crisis, without a competitive tender, in late 2008.

Other solicitor/borrowers were placed on the HPP list because they acted for the bank in some legal proceedings as well as borrowing from it.

A separate review of politically sensitive investors was also carried out by Anglo.

Investors, many of whom had borrowed from the bank in order to invest in Anglo-promoted products, had investments valued at more than €250m according to the investor review.

Investors who may have lost out when the bank was nationalised included members of the judiciary, journalists, entertainers and several pension schemes. Anglo staff also lost out.

The government, which nationalised Anglo in 2009, liquidated the lender in February 2013 following an all-night sitting of the Oireachtas dubbed "prom night".

Some of the high-profile borrowers' details were provided by the IBRC to the State under a dedicated Relationship Framework document regulating dealings between the Minister for Finance and the bank after it was taken into state ownership.

The details of some -- but not all -- high-profile borrowers were given to the State, but only if the borrower's exposure had a significant public-interest dimension in terms of litigation or reputational issues that may have affected the bank or the State.

This included the State's handling of so-called legacy-debt issues arising from the bank bailout.

Dearbhail McDonald and Thomas Molloy

Irish Independent

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