Friday 20 July 2018

How 'money went round in a circle'

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Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

The jury heard that in 2008, at the height of the financial crisis, Anglo entered into a series of circular transactions with Irish Life and Permanent (ILP).

This was aimed at bolstering Anglo's customer deposits figure on its year-end balance sheet in September, making the bank look stronger and more secure than it really was.

The deal involved Anglo placing cash with ILP, which then passed the money through its non-banking subsidiary Irish Life Assurance (ILA) back to Anglo.

Because ILA was not a bank, Anglo was able to re-categorise the cash as having come from a corporate customer. This would be seen by the markets as a better source of funding than interbank lending.

Anglo placed an initial €1.2bn with ILP but after that, the prosecution said, the money merely "went around in a circle".

The timing of the deal was designed so that rather than cancelling each other out, the transactions would be recorded. Over the course of three days, the figures eventually added up to €7.2bn, which was disguised as customer deposits.

Anglo's external auditors Ernst & Young signed off on the accounts as being "true and fair."

However, an expert prosecution witness said it had been "inaccurate and misleading" for Anglo to include the €7.2bn in the deposits figure.

David Drumm, the prosecution said, was the "driving force" in Anglo at the time and chaired meetings about funding initiatives.

His co-conspirators were Anglo's former finance director Willie McAteer and head of capital markets John Bowe, as well as ILP's then-chief executive Denis Casey, and others.

Drumm was heard discussing the ILP transactions on a series of taped phone calls that were played to the jury. There was evidence that he specifically asked Anglo's head of treasury Matt Cullen to ask his counterpart in ILP, David Gantly, to increase the September transaction from €6bn to €7bn.

There was also evidence he was in contact directly with Casey and they discussed the transactions with each other.

Drumm had admitted authorising the transactions and being responsible for their execution in Anglo, but denied any intent to defraud or dishonesty in their reporting. Drumm had "togged out for Ireland" and was acting "in good faith" in trying to save the bank, defence barrister Brendan Grehan said.

Neither the bank's own audit committee, the external auditors, the Financial Regulator or the Central Bank had raised "any red flag" about the transactions before they were reported to the market.

However, the prosecution said what Drumm had taken part in was a "massive con".

Irish Independent

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