Business Irish

Wednesday 21 March 2018

Gilmore refuses to answer questions on Anglo tapes knowledge

Lyndsey Telford

TANAISTE Eamon Gilmore has declined to answer calls to say who knew what and when about taped conversations between chiefs at the bust Anglo Irish Bank.

Amid accusations that the Government is protecting a "political elite" by refusing to investigate the issue, the Labour leader said the planned parliamentary inquiry into the scandal was the place to deal with it.

"I think questions about who knew what and what did they do about it are fair questions," Mr Gilmore said.

"I believe these questions need to be asked and put to the people concerned in a public forum."

After weeks of leaked tape recordings and revelations of the cut-throat culture at Anglo, former public interest director Alan Dukes has come under the spotlight.

Opposition party Sinn Fein raised concerns about the politically-appointed board member - a former leader of Fine Gael - and whether he knew the tape recordings existed.

Mr Dukes served on the board at the state-owned Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC) - the rebranded Anglo - until its liquidation earlier this year. He was chairman.

If he was aware the tapes existed, Sinn Fein has claimed he should have informed the Fine Gael-Labour coalition Government and the Central Bank

The Government has insisted it knew nothing about the practice of internal conversations between bankers being recorded.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan previously claimed he only became aware of it after the tapes were leaked to the Irish Independent.

Recordings showed executives joking about Anglo's massive bailout and the controversial blanket bank guarantee.

They date back to the period around September 30 2008 when the then Fianna Fail-Green Party coalition brought in a crippling 440 billion euro guarantee for all the Irish banks.

They outlined how bosses were ordered by Anglo chief David Drumm to go to the Central Bank with "arms swinging" to demand a multi-billion euro taxpayer bailout - or "moolah" - as the bank was collapsing in 2008.

Sinn Fein finance spokesman Pearse Doherty said Mr Dukes was paid by the state to serve as public interest director at the toxic lender and therefore had a duty to disclose that these tapes existed.

"You are protecting the political elite, a former leader of Fine Gael, a former finance minister and a former Fine Gael senator," Mr Doherty said.

Mr Gilmore insisted these issues would be addressed in a parliamentary inquiry, legislation for which is being passed.

The Government hopes to hold the probe, which will be broadcast live for the public, this autumn.

"These are in many respects very straightforward questions and they need to be put to the people who can answer them directly and to the public," Mr Gilmore said.

"This isn't something that is for in here. This isn't an inside the bubble issue."

The tape recordings include conversations involving 18 employees at Anglo.

They were handed over to Garda fraud investigators three years ago when criminal investigations into the bank first got under way.

Online Editors

Business Newsletter

Read the leading stories from the world of Business.

Also in Business