Sunday 18 March 2018

From obscurity to infamy thanks to shocking tapes

Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

JOHN Bowe was an obscure former banker until recordings of telephone conversations made mostly on his Anglo Irish Bank phone-line in 2007 and 2008 were published by the Irish Independent this summer.

His infamous comments about how the calculations behind Anglo's request for a €7bn government rescue loan were made in particular would make Mr Bowe a household name.

"I picked it out of my arse," he's heard telling colleague Peter Fitzgerald on the most notorious of all the Anglo Tapes.

For many, the line has come to represent everything they believe was wrong with Anglo.

Almost a year to the day after that phone conversation was recorded, Mr Bowe was in Istanbul, still chasing down cash for the beleaguered bank.

In the wake of its nationalisation, almost everything else at Anglo Irish Bank had changed.

The top tier of Anglo bosses had been swept away. David Drumm had been replaced by low-key Australian Mike Aynsley.

Mr Bowe had been kept on under the new regime.

Despite what we now know about Mr Bowe's shockingly unprofessional and cynical conversations in late 2008, he was still at the bank and still earning an estimated €300,000 a year.

While in Turkey, his job was to drum up interest in lending to Anglo among the hundreds of global investors attending a high-powered IMF/World Bank event.

Like other senior figures who ended up staying with Anglo under the new management, Mr Bowe's role did change over time.

In September 2008, when the controversial phone call was recorded, he was head of Capital Markets – in charge of dealing with sourcing money for the bank in the bond and share markets.

Later he was promoted to director of treasury and later still he was one of the senior officials handling the bank's controversial efforts to collect debts owed by Sean Quinn.

Only in March last year, long after the bank collapsed into state control, did he leave, taking with him a redundancy package reflecting his earnings over 11 years as a senior executive at the bank.

Irish Independent

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