Monday 23 October 2017

Fraud squad was on brink of arresting Drumm

Maeve Sheehan

Maeve Sheehan

THE Garda Fraud Squad was on the brink of arresting David Drumm after he failed to make himself available for interview about a back-to-back loan that concealed the losses at Anglo Irish Bank.

The bank's former chief executive moved to the US as the bank was about to collapse, but was expected back in Ireland to fight a court case taken against him by the bank.

After more than half a dozen attempts to set up a meeting with Mr Drumm over the course of a year, detectives planned to arrest and question him about alleged financial irregularities at the bank once he landed on Irish soil, according to an informed source.

But at the last minute, Mr Drumm cancelled a trip home and remained beyond the reach of gardai, who are powerless to question him on foreign soil without his consent.

Mr Drumm has so far failed to mention his refusal to meet gardai in media interviews he has given to protest at the publication of the Anglo Tapes in the Irish Independent and Sunday Independent.

The secret Anglo recordings capture Mr Drumm joking about abusing the bank guarantee.

Mr Drumm has claimed he was being made a scapegoat for the banking crisis and said he would take "legal advice" before deciding whether to participate in the banking inquiry, which the Government has promised on foot of the explosive contents of the leaked tapes.

Justice Minister Alan Shatter said Mr Drumm should make himself available to gardai to answer questions. Finance Minister Michael Noonan has also called on him to co-operate with the planned banking inquiry.

Sources close to the garda investigation said that over a two-year period, Mr Drumm declined their numerous requests to talk to him about a €7bn back-to-back loan that masked the scale of Anglo's losses in its dying days.

The Garda Fraud Squad launched a criminal investigation into the temporary loan from Irish Life & Permanent to Anglo months after the bank's collapse and wanted to interview the former chief executive.

By then, Mr Drumm had moved to the US with his wife and family. According to one source, a game of cat and mouse ensued in trying to set up a voluntary interview with Mr Drumm, either here or in the US. They communicated with him through his solicitors in Dublin and emailed him directly.

In one email in April 2010, Mr Drumm indicated he would consider a meeting but made no firm commitment, according to sources. The following year, he set a tentative date to meet detectives on his return to Dublin to contest a legal action over outstanding €8m loans he owed to Anglo.

He was due in Ireland in October that year. But according to sources, detectives planned to arrest him for questioning once he landed on Irish soil. Mr Drumm never travelled. He filed for bankruptcy in the US shortly before the court case and remained in the US.

It is understood that gardai made a final attempt to contact Mr Drumm in the autumn of 2011 when they were about to send the file on their investigation to the Director of Public Prosecution.

The file was submitted to the DPP without his input. The DPP has yet to decide whether anyone should be charged in connection with the transaction.

Gardai can only seek Mr Drumm's extradition if the DPP directs that there is evidence to charge him with a crime. Mr Drumm has claimed in the past that he wouldn't be treated fairly if he came back to Ireland and claimed he only moved to the US because he had no employment prospects here.

He has given two interviews in which he apologised for his foul language and denied that there was any attempt to conceal its financial situation from the Central Bank and the Regulator.

In a further statement last week, he said he would wait to see the terms of reference and would take "legal advice" before considering his position on the banking inquiry.

Irish Independent

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