Wednesday 25 April 2018

Sorry tale a microcosm of Anglo's tragedy

Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

The Anglo Tapes provide a unique insight into the go-go culture at Anglo Irish Bank in the aftermath of the boom.

It was a bank that prided itself on being the outsider bank, less smooth than the traditional big banks but leaner, smarter and faster.

John Bowe and Peter Fitzgerald were seasoned Anglo insiders. They had both been with the bank right through the boom in senior positions and were completely absorbed in its driven, no-holds-barred culture.

A typical conversation between any two senior executives at the bank at that time would probably have featured the same colourful language and what Mr Bowe unconvincingly claimed was "gallows humour".


However, it would not have anywhere near the same historic importance. Mr Bowe's emergence into the spotlight today is less about him as an individual and much more about the pivotal job he held at the time.

While more senior managers and directors were desperately trying to curry support from senior political figures, Mr Bowe and Mr Fitzgerald were at the coalface of the threatened bank collapse – dealing directly with its terrified customers, investors and lenders.

It is why of all the recordings made over the period of Mr Bowe's utterly candid comments add so much to our understanding of the thinking and the attitudes inside the bank during what were historically important days and weeks.

He comes across as cynical and irreverent but there is no mistaking the quality of his analysis – he predicted with almost unerring accuracy a banking collapse that most of us can still only barely grasp in hindsight.

In many ways, that combination of outstanding ability and predatory opportunism is the tragedy of Anglo Irish Bank itself.

Irish Independent

Business Newsletter

Read the leading stories from the world of Business.

Also in Business