Tuesday 12 December 2017

"Anglo tapes were shocking," says Aynsley

Mike Aynsley
Mike Aynsley
Alan Dukes
Thomas Molloy

Thomas Molloy

THE former chief executive said the culture at Anglo was one of the biggest problems at the lender when he joined in 2009.

THE Anglo tapes were shocking, former Anglo Irish Bank chief executive Mike Aynsley admitted.

“I was shocked by them frankly. We hadn’t heard all the tapes,” Mr Aynsley told TV3 yesterday. “We hadn’t heard these particular tapes. It was a bit of surprise”

The former chief executive said the culture at Anglo was one of the biggest problems at the lender when he joined in 2009 following the government’s decision to nationalise Anglo earlier that year.

Changing this culture was probably the most difficult challenge of Mr Aynsley’s three-and-a-half year stint at the bank, he added. There was a “continuing flow of difficult internal problems that needed to be dealt with.”

Mr Aynsley and former chairman Alan Dukes “determined that we needed to change the vast majority” of executives after joining the bank. Mr Aynsley said he still expects the collapse of Anglo to collapse between €25bn and €28bn.

Still, he insisted Anglo was only part of the reason for the financial crisis.

“This wasn’t just an Anglo Irish problem. It was a systemic problem,” the Australian chief executive said. While admitting that the bank was a contributor to the bust, he also blamed political leaders and a “weak regulatory environment” in Ireland. “It’s like hosting a 21-year-old’s birthday party. Nobody wants to come and say ‘go home’,” he added.

Mr Aynsley acknowledged his relationship with the Department of Finance was “testy” at times. He said some politicians seemed to object to the bank’s efforts to force some borrower to repay loans. “The political elements are something that are foreign to us.”

Both chief executive and chairman were only told hours before the government decided to liquidate the bank earlier this year.

In the same interview Mr Dukes, a former Fine Gael finance minister, defended some lending by Anglo, saying the bank had made good loans as well as bad loans.

Asked whether the special liquidation agreed in a dramatic late night debate in the Dail in February would force a so-called fire sale of cheap property, both men disagreed and said the liquidator plans to sell property in a careful manner.

Both Mr Aynsley and Mr Dukes denied that Anglo had treated the Quinn Group badly. “We had engaged in a deep study with the Quinn Group and Deutsche Bank,” Mr Dukes said. That study concluded that it would cost €600m

Mr Dukes added that “Official Ireland” and the regulator did not want the management at the time, which included the Quinn family, to continue as the company’s leadership. Both made the comments on TV3.

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