The controversy over Anglo Irish Bank's former chairman's €87m of hidden bank loans claimed its fourth boardroom scalp yesterday, with the resignation of Willie McAteer, group finance director and chief risk officer.
Sean FitzPatrick, who became chairman in 2005, was forced to step down last month after it emerged he had concealed loans from the bank for eight years by temporarily transferring them to another bank before each year end to avoid disclosing them in the annual report.
Non-executive director Lar Bradshaw, who held a joint loan with Mr FitzPatrick, walked the plank the same day, while group chief executive David Drumm quit the group 24 hours later.
The resignation of Mr McAteer, who joined Anglo in 1990, comes as a new sub-committee of the group's board, together with Declan Moylan, chairman of law firm Mason Hayes Curran, continues to review the group's practice relating to directors' loans.
A separate probe into the Financial Regulator's handling of the situation, having become aware of Mr FitzPatrick's practice last January, is due to be completed tomorrow.
The watchdog's chief executive Patrick Neary is set to appear before an Oireachtas Committee next Tuesday to answer questions on his office's role in the scandal.
Matt Moran, currently chief financial officer at the troubled property-focused lender, which is set to receive a €1.5bn bailout from the State, has been appointed finance director designate.
The group, which is currently chaired by former PricewaterhouseCoopers senior partner Donal O'Connor, had decided to split the role from that of chief risk officer, for which it plans to hire an external candidate.
In the meantime, Peter Butler, managing director of the bank's wealth management division and former head of Irish lending, has been appointed to the role in an acting capacity. Sources said the new outside hire will likely set up a fresh root-and-branch review of the group's entire loan book.
The most recent reappraisal, led by Mr McAteer late last year, pointed to the bank writing off between €1.28bn and €2.76bn of bad loans -- mainly to property developers -- within the next three years.
A number of analysts now believe this assessment to be too optimistic.
Mr O'Connor said the group aims to have a new chief executive in place by the time Anglo's recapitalisation -- which will see the group hand over 75pc of its voting rights to the Government -- comes before an extraordinary shareholder meeting on January 16.
"The board will also be strengthened through the appointment of a number of new non-executive directors in the near future," the chairman said.
Anglo is set to reveal details of some €150m of directors' loans, including those to Mr FitzPatrick, in its upcoming annual report -- the publication of which has been postponed to January 27.
Meanwhile, it is understood that executives from Allied Irish Banks and Bank of Ireland this week began setting up meetings with major shareholders over their plans to raise up to €1bn each in the markets over the coming months.
The funds will top up the €2bn both will receive from the State.