Friday 15 December 2017

These tapes are just the beginning of it

The full horror of what was going on at the top of Anglo will only finally emerge in the courts, writes Maeve Sheehan

Patick Neary, former Financial regulator of the Central bank pictured yesterday in Dundrum shopping centre. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Patick Neary, former Financial regulator of the Central bank pictured yesterday in Dundrum shopping centre. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Maeve Sheehan

Maeve Sheehan

WITH their breath-taking arrogance and shocking mendacity, the Anglo Tapes shook the nation when they hit the front page of the Irish Independent last week.

But they were old news to the handful of investigators who had spent the best part of two years transcribing thousands of hours of taped conversations between top executives at the doomed bank – tapes that were left behind when they jumped or were pushed from the sinking ship.

In February 2009, months after Anglo Irish Bank had gone bust, the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) had ordered an investigation into breaches of company law by the bank's top brass.

On the instruction of court orders obtained by the ODCE, detectives from the garda fraud bureau twice swooped in dramatic dawn raids, gathering up hard drives and computers and databases as they moved through the bank's headquarters and two other outlets.

There were emails, letters and memos, but the stash of tapes that was locked away in the bank's headquarters proved the most illuminating.

Like the black box in a stricken aircraft, they gave investigators a crucial insight into the mindset of those steering the doomed bank in its dying days.

Anglo was no different to other banks in recording the phone calls, most of which were in and out of its treasury department. As the section that presided over the inflows and outflows of cash, phone calls in and out were routinely recorded, given the huge sums that dealers traded on a daily basis.

Detectives never got to interview Mr Drumm, as he fled to America after the bank's collapse, later claiming that he was "advised" to do so. That means the State will have to seek his extradition if the DPP decides there is a case answer.

Last week, the Taoiseach and government figures expressed shock and surprise at the very existence of the Anglo Tapes, although they were already in the possession of the gardai, the Office for the Director of Corporate Enforcement and, of course, the now liquidated IBRC – the name that was given to Anglo when it was taken under State control.

'Detectives never got to interview David Drumm'

And anyone following the epic legal battle waged by Sean Quinn and his family against the bank would also have known that some of the tapes were amongst thousands of internal documents and emails released to the family on the orders of the High Court last year. Their legal team is currently in the process of mining the dispatches for evidence of who knew what about their disputed loans.

What we've heard of the Anglo Tapes so far is just a taster. For the unexpurgated version, we'll probably have to wait, either for a criminal trial or for the Quinns' epic legal battle to take its course.

Irish Independent

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