Business World

Tuesday 15 October 2019

New Anglo Tapes: 'We've f**king let the world down'

Anglo's Bowe laments lack of dinner party invites while Ireland's wealthy elite transfer €500 million in two days into Germany

A LEADING British banker told Anglo Irish Bank Head of Treasury John Bowe that the banking industry had "totally fucking let the world down", but it was politicians such as then Taoiseach Brian Cowen who would lose their jobs.

Mr Bowe replied "Yeah", but added that the politicians in charge had to take responsibility for the crash because "you pay the piper, you call the tune".

In fresh revelations from the Anglo Tapes, Matt Pass, a senior executive in Merrill Lynch, which advised the State on the bank guarantee, admitted he felt "quite guilty" about the banking industry's conduct.

He said that what had been "handed" to politicians meant that Mr Cowen and then British Prime Minister Gordon Brown "are going to lose their jobs".

However, Mr Bowe did not absolve politicians, telling the UK banker that "if he [Gordon Brown] did not have banks handing out credit during the New Labour years, people would not have spent money, the economy would not have been as prosperous".

The Merrill Lynch executive also suggested to Mr Bowe, in a conversation in October 2008, that political leaders could have told the banks in the years before the crash that they "shouldn't have been doing the kind of lending they were doing".

But he added that if they had done that, "there would have been an almighty stink".

In another conversation in late September 2008, Anglo's chief financial officer, Matt Moran, told Mr Bowe how Ireland's wealthy were moving their money to Germany.

He told Mr Bowe he had heard from a senior stockbroker that "significant money (had) come out of AIB and Bank (of Ireland) . . . and going into German bunds". This, he said, was being done "in the high private client side".

He said he had been told about "super-high net worth money held in some cash-type accounts and orders by custodians to move it into [German] bunds".

In the course of only two days, the bankers speculated that Ireland's wealthy could have put as much as €500m into Germany.

Mr Bowe also told Mr Moran how Anglo worked with Irish Life & Permanent to prop up its balance sheet.

"Permo [Irish Life & Permanent] were on to us, they were short a billion, em, and kind of caught short – it sounds like all the corporate stuff [deposits] has left Permo, so the Central Bank is obviously aware of that, but they got 300 [million] on Friday and they got another, I think it was 850 [million], today from us and we just have to see what happens, but they're paying it back tomorrow, that's the basis on which we did it," Mr Bowe told Mr Moran.

"So it feels a bit better, Matt – I suppose that's the best way of putting it – and in terms of our days, days to disaster, you can kind of stretch that, stretch that out, y'know?"

Mr Moran laughed before replying: "Yeah."

Mr Moran hit the head-lines last week when it emerged he had been granted immunity from prosecution by the Director of Public Prosecutions for all matters relating to Anglo Irish Bank. He has previously featured several times in the Anglo Tapes, as well as in Anglo emails in which he refers to contacts during the crisis with then Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny, who he calls "Enda K", and then Fianna Fail TD, Beverly Flynn.

In another recording, in April 2008, while talking to Anglo CEO David Drumm, Mr Bowe described Sean Quinn as "like a cancer, this is like a cancer growing on the bank".

He said at this stage the bank was "in a spiral, and I want the spiral to go away".

In another conversation around that time – a month after the bank guarantee – Mr Bowe is again talking to Mr Drumm, who is complaining that Finance Minister Brian Lenihan has made a statement about the importance of systemic banks. Mr Drumm claims that in doing so "he just made a balls of it. He killed us".

Mr Bowe told Mr Drumm that Anglo (and Irish Nationwide) were not considered systemic banks – and therefore worth saving – because "we don't give, pay people's wages and have ATMs and do stuff like that". Mr Drumm replies: "Oh, yeah, the cash out of the wall."

Mr Drumm then suggested that the Government was "trying to kill us". "I think they have been trying to force us into a tougher spot"... so that they could... "act under the Central Bank Act, y'know, to protect the stability of the system".


Sunday Independent

Also in Business