Friday 28 July 2017

Seanie flies in, but he won't say sorry

FitzPatrick lands before volcano chaos

JETTING IN: Sean FitzPatrick arriving at Dublin Airport from Malaga last Tuesday. Photo: David Conachy
JETTING IN: Sean FitzPatrick arriving at Dublin Airport from Malaga last Tuesday. Photo: David Conachy

DANIEL McCONNELL Chief Reporter EXCLUSIVE

Disgraced former chairman of Anglo Irish Bank Sean FitzPatrick has again refused to apologise for his role in ruining the now State-owned bank, as he flew in to Dublin from his Marbella hideaway last week.

Arriving home on an Aer Lingus flight from Malaga last Tuesday, Mr FitzPatrick was met by the Sunday Independent and repeatedly refused to apologise for his role in the scandal, which forced the bank into nationalisation last year.

Mr FitzPatrick's refusal to apologise comes as the head of Nama, Brendan McDonagh, has said it will fight "tooth and nail" to pursue borrowers who owe it money and are displaying wealth in defiance of their indebtedness.

Mr FitzPatrick fled to Marbella following his arrest and questioning by gardai last month and was out of the country when Finance Minister Brian Lenihan announced the Nama bailout.

When asked by the Sunday Independent at Dublin airport last week whether he feels he owes the Irish people an apology for what has happened, Mr Fitzpatrick said: "No, why?"

When asked again if an apology was warranted, he simply said: "I am not saying any more to the media. You have your picture, now be fair."

Carrying no more than a leather sports bag over his shoulder, Mr FitzPatrick, who travelled with his wife Triona, made his way alone through the arrivals car park where he got into the passenger seat in a dark Mercedes Benz and was driven off.

"The strong view of the board of Nama is that if somebody owes us money and is displaying obvious wealth almost in defiance of us, we will fight tooth and nail to recover the full amount," Mr McDonagh said. "The taxpayer has shelled out money and we will pursue the debts to the very end to get back as much as possible."

On the issue of personal guarantees he said that the price Nama paid for loans put no monetary value on personal guarantees. "The banks didn't like it, but we are pursuing the guarantees. There are protections on the family home, but our view would be that a person needs only one principal private residence. If somebody declares his or her principal private residence to be a trophy house in a particular district, then we will pursue him or her," he said.

Yesterday, Finance Minister Brian Lenihan accused Mr FitzPatrick on RTE radio of using him as part of a publicity stunt back in September 2008. Mr FitzPatrick, who was still Anglo chairman at the time, requested and was granted a meeting with Mr Lenihan over a proposed merger with Irish Nationwide.

Mr Lenihan said yesterday: "He once came into see me a fortnight before the guarantee, as his request to discuss the possible merger with Irish Nationwide. The secretary of the department was present and we listened to the proposal, which we read about in the following day's newspaper. To be honest, I felt the purpose of the visit was to simply give the leak to the newspaper credibility. There was very little discussion about the position facing Anglo at the time."

For its part, Anglo Irish Bank is targeting the multi-million-euro pensions of its former directors, including Mr FitzPatrick and former CEO David Drumm, as it tries to recover €155m in outstanding loans for the taxpayer.

It has emerged that the bank's new management team have hired private detectives to track down assets belonging to former top management in locations all over the world.

The bank has conceded to this newspaper that it has been engaged in the hiring of new staff. "Anglo has recently made a number of external appointments to its senior management team. The bank is currently in a transitional phase, awaiting the approval of its restructuring plan from the EU. Future recruitment will be conducted on a needs basis, in line with the requirements." The bank denied it has offered bonuses to its staff.

Sunday Independent

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