Tuesday 17 July 2018

Profile: Meteoric rise led ultimately to disaster

Gavin McLoughlin

Gavin McLoughlin

From relatively humble beginnings in Skerries, north Co Dublin, David Drumm rose to lead an upstart bank that was snapping at the heels of the established players. He left school at 16 and qualified as an accountant, before beginning a swift rise through the ranks at Anglo.

With the Celtic Tiger taking off, he moved to the US in 1998 where he established Anglo's US division in Boston.

Drumm returned to Dublin in 2003 and two years later, aged just 37, he was a surprise choice to replace Seán FitzPatrick as Anglo chief executive.

In the early years of his leadership, the bank's financial performance soared, with company records routinely smashed.

Writing in the bank's 2007 annual report, Drumm sounded an optimistic note.

"We expect Ireland to remain one of the strongest European economies in 2008, despite a gradual moderation in growth rates.

"As always, the bank's risk appetite remains conservative - we will never sacrifice asset quality for growth," he added.

Nicknamed 'Drummer', Drumm's direct, no-nonsense approach found favour with Anglo's customers who included many of the biggest names in Irish business.

But by the end of 2008, the financial world was a very different place. An exposed Anglo was on the brink of collapse. Drumm resigned just before Christmas. Days later, the government moved to take control of the lender.

In the summer of 2009, he moved to the US with his family, where he lived in the Boston region, ultimately settling in the well-to-do town of Wellesley, Massachusetts.

Their 4,089 sq ft house, when later put up for sale by the Drumm family, would be described in the property advertisement as a "beautifully renovated colonial with European flair".

He would find himself pursued by Anglo, in its new guise, over his borrowings from the bank, in a process that culminated in his bankruptcy in the US. He and wife Lorraine found themselves in the full glare of the media spotlight.

Not much more than a decade ago, Drumm was routinely lauded as a top-notch chief executive. Yesterday Judge Karen O'Connor branded his behaviour "grossly reprehensible". His rise may have been dramatic, but his fall was much more so.

Irish Independent

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