Monday 11 December 2017

Drumm denied bail despite claim prison was 'uncomfortable'

Ex-Anglo chief David Drumm
Ex-Anglo chief David Drumm

Shane Phelan, Public Affairs Editor

David Drumm has been denied bail by a US judge who failed to be swayed by complaints that he found prison "uncomfortable".

The former Anglo Irish Bank chief executive now faces at least a further four months behind bars.

In an eleven-page ruling, Boston District Court Judge Donald Cabell said Mr Drumm (49) had not established the presence of "special circumstances" sufficient to overcome the presumption in favour of detention.

This presumption is enshrined in US laws governing extradition proceedings and is the opposite to situation that prevails in Ireland, where courts tend to lean in favour of releasing extradition suspects until their cases are dealt with.

In the ruling, the judge revealed a previously undisclosed argument made by Mr Drumm - that his conditions of confinement were "uncomfortable" and made it more difficult than necessary for him to consult with his lawyers to prepare his defence.

Reporters had previously been restricted from revealing these concerns as this argument was made "under seal".

The judge ruled that the fact jail is unpleasant did not amount to a special circumstance.

"It is true that the defendant’s continued detention will create issues of varying degrees of strain and inconvenience for both him and his family, but there is insufficient evidence to suggest it would be to such a degree as to distinguish this case from other extradition cases," the judge found.

Judge Cabell also found that Mr Drumm would be "a flight risk" if set free on bond.

"The court does find that the seriousness of the charges pending against the defendant in Ireland provides the defendant with an incentive to flee," he said.

"The court further finds that the defendant’s background and experience in international matters and his presumed substantial assets provide him with the ability to flee if he were so inclined."

Mr Drumm will now be held in the custody of the US Marshals Service until at least next March, when the extradition proceedings are due to be heard. He has been in custody since being arrested at him $2m (€1.75m) home on the outskirts of Boston on October 10.

He faces 33 charges if returned to Ireland, including ones for fraud and false accounting.

All of the charges date back to 2008, his final year at the helm of Anglo.

Judge Cabell was also not swayed by letters written to the court by Mr Drumm's wife Lorraine, 80-year-old mother Mary, and various siblings and friends.

He said he had carefully considered these, but they had not met the threshold necessary for him to grant bail.

He noted that despite Mr Drumm's large extended family in Ireland, he had chosen not to return home for six years "and has specifically declined requests to be interviewed by Irish authorities regarding the criminal investigation that led to this extradition matter".

He also noted that after Mr Drumm filed for bankruptcy with debts of $11m (€10m) he was denied a petition for discharge because, among other things, he "had intentionally failed to disclose assets".

Assurances that friends would offer their homes as security should bail be granted also failed to sway Judge Cabell.

The judge did not believe an argument that Mr Drumm would most likely get bail if he was arrested in Ireland was relevant.

"Mr Drumm might indeed be released on bail in Ireland but that would be an issue for the Irish courts to decide," he said.

"For present purposes, a country’s willingness to extend bail to defendants located within its borders does not lessen the same country’s desire to have fugitive defendants held so that they may be promptly returned for trial."

Judge Cabell also rejected an argument from Mr Drumm's lawyers that Irish authorities had delayed too long before bringing the charges, accepting the investigation "has been complicated by Mr Drumm’s decision to leave the country".

Judge Cabell said he was sympathetic to an argument that Mr Drumm's incarceration would put his family under financial strain.

"But that possibility, however unfortunate, is present in almost every case where a defendant with family faces detention pending adjudication. Accordingly, the fact that the defendant’s family depends on him for financial and emotional support is not a special circumstance weighing in favour of release," he said.

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