Saturday 16 December 2017

Gardai follow new leads after arrest of ex-Anglo chiefs

Tom Brady, Fionnan Sheahan, and Shane Hickey

DETECTIVES investigating financial irregularities at Anglo Irish Bank have opened up new lines of inquiry following the high-profile arrests of former chairman Sean FitzPatrick and former finance director Willie McAteer.

Mr McAteer (59) was released without charge yesterday afternoon after being held in custody for 32 hours at Irishtown Garda Station on the southside of Dublin. As he was being released, Taoiseach Brian Cowen announced that the Government would reveal its plans for the banking sector next week. His comments came after Anglo chief executive Mike Aynsley said the bank needed another €9bn of taxpayer funding to survive.

Mr Cowen said the Government's proposals for the restructuring of the banking sector were aimed at ensuring it contributed to economic recovery.

Mr Cowen said the Government was trying to devise the least worst option as the best solution to the problem.

He argued that the Fine Gael proposal to withdraw support from the bank would expose the taxpayer to an even greater exposure than trying to work out a strategy to help them.

He said Anglo's problems arose because of the business model and lending practices in the bank at that time.

"The fact of the matter now is the State owns the bank, the State has taken over this bank by reason of the fact that default or closure or collapse of a bank would have wider ramifications, not only on the banking sector but on the economy in general," Mr Cowen said.


The Taoiseach said the Government was using the NAMA process as a way to get the banks to declare their losses upfront and inspire confidence in the markets.

But Fine Gael's deputy finance spokesman Kieran O'Donnell called for an immediate freeze on further Anglo bailouts.

"No other country in the world would dream of squandering so much of its national wealth on a bank with no future and no system importance to the national economy," he claimed.

Mr O'Donnell said not another cent of taxpayers' money should be put into Anglo until the Government had given serious thought to all the alternatives.

"Brian Lenihan is getting ready to pump around €30bn of taxpayers' money in to Anglo, comprising €21bn under NAMA and €9bn worth of recapitalisation. This represents €18,750 per family," he added.

Meanwhile, Mr McAteer emerged into the sunshine at 2.15pm yesterday and stepped into a waiting blue Ford Focus car without making any comment on his detention.

He was questioned at length on whether he had any role to play in or knowledge of the movement of €7.45bn in deposits between Anglo and Irish Life and Permanent to bolster Anglo's books, and the controversial loan of €450m to a "golden circle" of 10 investors to buy bank shares.

Fraud officers are continuing to examine computers, disks, files and a large amount of other documentation seized by detectives during a detailed search of Mr McAteer's home on Wednesday.

The outcome of his questioning will be included in an overall file to be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions after the lengthy and complex investigation has been completed by the gardai and officials from the Office of Corporate Enforcement director Paul Appleby.

The Irish Independent yesterday revealed further arrests were likely as gardai focussed on the next layer of management and inquiries are expected to extend overseas as well as at home before some of those under the microscope are interviewed.

Irish Independent

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