Thursday 12 December 2019

Bankers 'pulled on green jersey' to work together in crisis, Anglo trial told

Former head of finance at Anglo Irish Bank Willie McAteer. Photo: Courtpix
Former head of finance at Anglo Irish Bank Willie McAteer. Photo: Courtpix
Denis Casey Photo: Courtpix
John Bowe Photo: Courtpix
Peter Fitzpatrick Photo: Courtpix

Declan Brennan

A former Anglo Irish Bank director has told the trial of four senior bankers accused of conspiring to mislead investors that there was a "green jersey agenda" which involved banks working together to help each other out during the financial turmoil of 2008.

The four men, including former Irish Life and Permanent (ILP) CEO Denis Casey and Anglo's former head of finance Willie McAteer, are accused of conspiring to mislead investors by using interbank loans to make Anglo appear €7.2bn more valuable than it was.

Mr McAteer (65), of Greenrath, Tipperary town, and Mr Casey (56), from Raheny, Dublin, are on trial alongside Peter Fitzpatrick (63), from Malahide, Dublin, who had been ILP's former director of finance, and John Bowe (52), from Glasnevin in Dublin, who had been Anglo's head of capital markets.

They have all pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to conspiring together and with others to mislead investors through financial transactions to make the bank appear €7.2bn more valuable that it was between March 1 and September 30, 2008.

On day 16 of the trial, Brendan Grehan SC, defending Mr Fitzpatrick, showed the jury an email sent from the former CEO David Drumm to Mr Bowe and other Anglo executives on March 16, 2008, discussing a suggestion from the Governor of the Central Bank that Irish banks help each other out.

Matt Cullen, the former director of treasury at Anglo, agreed that the genesis of the email was about how banks could help each other out and that this was a case of "pulling on the green jersey".

"This was Ireland Inc," Mr Cullen said, adding that Mr Drumm was talking to CEOs of the other banks. He agreed with counsel that everybody was involved to try to achieve the same aim, to protect the Irish banking system.

Mr Cullen told Michael O'Higgins SC, defending Mr Casey, that he had heard of the "green jersey agenda" and said he would have been aware of what was being discussed in Mr Drumm's office from March 16 up until the end of that month.

"That was the biggest sign of banks working together. AIB going to work with the likes of us shows what a crisis it was," he said.

Mr O'Higgins said the origin of the crisis was the selling of loans that contained a lot of mortgages, some of which were sub-prime. He said a lot of banks in Europe had bought these loans in the form of bonds.

He said that when some of these mortgages started to go bad, there was no way of knowing how badly the bonds were tainted and that market confidence began to collapse.

He said Anglo's position in the market was made worse because businessman Sean Quinn had taken out a "contracts for difference" position on shares in the bank.

The trial continues before Judge Martin Nolan and a jury.

Irish Independent

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