Monday 11 December 2017

Financier was key to bank's massive expansion

Thomas Molloy

WILLIE McAteer probably wishes he had taken his own advice. Back in the middle of the decade, the Donegal man told journalists he intended to retire within a couple of years.

"I won't go on until I'm 60 -- I don't need to, thankfully," Mr McAteer said in 2005, when his 3.5 million Anglo shares were worth close to €60m.

But things have not gone according to plan for the present-day resident of the leafy south Dublin suburb of Rathgar, who resigned from the bankrupt bank last year and who was arrested and questioned by gardai yesterday.

Mr McAteer's life has been tied up with Anglo Irish since Sean FitzPatrick headhunted the former partner at Pricewaterhouse back in 1992.

Back then, Mr McAteer joined the fledgling bank with just four people in the finance department and profits of €7m. By the time he resigned last year, the bank was reporting 2007 profits of around €1bn.

Despite the bank's growing problems throughout 2008, Mr McAteer still appeared optimistic when he appeared before the Oireachtas finance committee in July 2008, just two months before Finance Minister Brian Lenihan was forced to issue a blanket guarantee for all the banks.

"I reject the suggestion that banks have been foolhardy in recklessly lending and driving up values. We are in competition right across the board and I cannot think of a bank that has been reckless," he told deputies.

Few share that analysis today.

Irish Independent

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