Wednesday 13 December 2017

'I'll probably punch Lenihan' – Drumm

'He told the world we are all f**king solvent, now he can protect his €100bn guarantee by writing us a €3bn cheque – get on with it!'

Tom Lyons and Gavin Sheridan

ANGLO Irish Bank chief executive David Drumm wanted to "punch" the former finance minister Brian Lenihan in frustration during the banking crisis.

In exclusive new revelations from the Anglo Tapes, the Sunday Independent can reveal that just weeks before Anglo was nationalised Drumm wanted the State to start writing the cheques, irrespective of the size of the black hole inside the bank.

"I'll probably punch him [Lenihan]," Drumm said on December 15, 2008. "And I mean punch him, as if to say [to Lenihan], 'What are you actually doing?'"

In secret conversations with John Bowe, the bank's head of treasury, Drumm said that he wanted the State to cough up between €2bn and €3bn straight away.

Drumm said he planned to tell Lenihan: "'What's this about having to go through due diligence? You made that decision on the 29th of September. You've told the fuckin' world we're all solvent.

"'Now can you protect your hundred billion guarantee of us by writing a two or three billion cheque and get on with it.'

"'Which will be the cheapest cheque . . .'" Bowe interjected. "'You ever wrote . . .'" Drumm continued.

"So my goal tomorrow is to get that through to [Lenihan]," Drumm said.

"'Do you understand? Can I teach you just one piece?' Not in that language, obviously, but can I teach you one piece of banking here? 'When you've guaranteed somebody's entire liabilities, it is smart to write a very small cheque to stop them being called! Which bit of that don't you get?' I don't think he gets it."

The Sunday Independent can also reveal how senior executives like Bowe and Matt Moran, its chief financial officer, viewed the then billionaire tycoon Sean Quinn.

"He's down just over a bill [€1bn]," Bowe told Moran in the Anglo Tapes. "Anybody even f**king listening to that. It is frightening," he added.

"The market is bigger than any man. It is the great leveller," Moran replied. "Yeah, it is, isn't it?" Bowe said. In a whisper, Moran said: "You stupid c**t [Quinn]. He really put us at risk."

The tapes also contain conversations where Anglo executives say that they believe Michael Fingleton's Irish Nationwide is so toxic that they would teach it "good governance" if the State merged the two institutions.

The tapes show Drumm ranting about the media's coverage of his bank as it entered its final months.

"All [RTE] wanted to know was which one of the developers was going to go bust? When was it going to happen? I got a bit annoyed at him and said, 'You fucking bought into it, the print media in Ireland!' I said, 'I don't know you might find Osama bin Laden before a fuckin' developer goes bust!'"

The bank's culture is also uncovered when two of its executives joke about how they planned to raise €5bn from a British fund manager during the crisis.

"If I can get a bit of drink into him, I might say to him I'd like about €5bn, before the 30th [Anglo's year end]," Moran said to laughs from Bowe. "Get him to sign the beer mat," Bowe replied.

Bowe asked: "Do you think he could give us a one-night stand." "If I can promise him there's no STD out of it," Moran replied.

The tapes also point towards deeper insights into Ireland's financial crisis which goes far beyond Anglo and into all of our toxic banks.

"What is exercising Bank [of Ireland] more than anything else is why they're being beaten up more than Allied [Irish Banks]," Bowe said.

"They think that Allied have played fast and loose with lending money to every cowboy in town – apart from ourselves also lending money to every cowboy in town – they think they've been the sensible bankers and the market just doesn't get it," Bowe added.

"Well I know differently," Drumm replied.

Wolfgang Schaeuble, the German Finance Minister, echoed statements on Saturday made by German Chancellor Angela Merkel earlier in the week.

Mr Schaeuble told the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper that the bankers on the Anglo Tapes have "nothing but contempt for their fellow man."

He also said: "They are the ones who should get our contempt", adding: "A stop must be put to it."

Irish Independent

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