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Sunday 21 April 2019

LISTEN: Anglo Tapes - Anglo boss David Drumm laughed as colleagues poked fun at bank's imminent collapse

David Drumm is pictured at the announcement of Anglo Irish Bank’s preliminary results in September 2004
David Drumm is pictured at the announcement of Anglo Irish Bank’s preliminary results in September 2004 Newsdesk Newsdesk

The Irish Independent exclusively published the Anglo Tapes in June 2013 – and they caused outrage across the country and in Europe.

Taped conversations between senior banking executives heard them laughing and joking about their dealings with the Financial Regulator and the trouble Anglo was facing.

The first of the conversations were recorded in September 2008. At the time, stock markets around the world were tumbling, a number of banks around the world were crashing and Ireland's economy was plunging into a deep recession, which was to keep the country in its tight grip for several years.

The first four clips are between the then acting direct of treasury John Bowe and his colleague Peter Fitzgerald.

Former Anglo Irish Bank executive David Drumm (Niall Carson/PA)
Former Anglo Irish Bank executive David Drumm (Niall Carson/PA)
Banker David Drumm
Journalists follow former Anglo CEO David Drumm from court after his fraud conviction. Photo:

Mr Bowe told Mr Fitzgerald that the other Irish banks didn't have the money to buy Anglo -- and the best-case scenario was nationalisation.

In a recording of a phone conversation between the two on September 18, 2008, Mr Bowe told Mr Fitzgerald: "I don't think we're an easy sell to anybody . . . and the home interest should be there, except that they don't have the financial standing themselves.

"So, do I think it's going to be possible to offload it (Anglo)? No, I don't. What will it end up being? It could be breaking it up and selling it in individual books, it could be nationalisation, you know. That would be fantastic; if it was nationalisation we'd keep our jobs."

The executives discussed the inquiries being conducted by the Central Bank and Financial Regulator into the state of the country's banks in the days leading up to the bank guarantee.

Mr Bowe revealed that the officials also had the "same conversation" with the Irish Permanent and Irish Nationwide.

He said the Government would have to come to the assistance of the ailing banks. "One playbook is that they decide that they're willing to put their hands in their pockets and support the financial sector or, at least, support the weaker elements of the financial sector."

John Bowe Pic: Collins Courts
John Bowe Pic: Collins Courts
John Bowe Photo: Collins Courts

He also revealed how the bank's CEO David Drumm was planning a series of meetings with government ministers. Mr Fitzgerald worried that the media would get to hear of the meetings. "That will get out," he cautioned.

Mr Fitzgerald then asked "would it not be easier" for the State to "stuff us into Allied (Allied Irish Bank)?"

Mr Bowe replied: "Well I think their playbook is stabilise it (Anglo) and then try and sort it out. And sooner rather than later. So my guess is that within a few weeks they (Central Bank) will be asking Allied to get involved or Bank (Bank of Ireland)."

In a response to another question, Mr Bowe said he didn't think AIB and Bank of Ireland had the capacity to get involved in buying Anglo.

"I don't think they have the financial muscle (or) the standing in the markets to get involved," he said.

They discussed rumours that various banks had done merger deals to avoid collapse. Mr Bowe said: "The market is just rife (with rumours) at the moment. I think the reality is that there is certainly a lot more happening than nothing at all.

"You can take it that in every bank there is a boardroom discussion on where to next."

Mr Fitzgerald later asked Mr Bowe what "message" should be given to the staff at Anglo.

"I'm going to say to people, look, we have got to keep going here.

"Don't worry about things . . . the bank has liquidity and we are in contact with the regulators at the highest levels so don't worry about it, you know.

"The message is, look, keep your heads up, everything is okay, it's a sh***y world out there, every bank is going through the horrors at the moment."

Mr Fitzgerald then laughed: "Yeah, yeah . . . don't bother, take the rest of the day off."

In another conversation, the then Anglo CEO David Drumm is heard giggling as one of his executives sings the German national anthem as deposits from Germany flow into the bank as a result of the guarantee.

This tape marked the first time the former Anglo chief executive is brought directly into the controversy – conversations between John Bowe and David Drumm were to dominate the ensuing coverage in 2013.

Mr Drumm can be heard laughing at the financial regulator's concerns about being seen internationally to be "abusing" the bank guarantee in late 2008.

"We won't do anything blatant, but . . . we have to get the money in . . . get the f***in' money in, get it in," he tells his senior manager, John Bowe.

At the time, European leaders including Germany's Angela Merkel and UK chancellor Alistair Darling were alarmed at how the guarantee could affect their banking systems.

But Mr Bowe sang a "comedy" version of the anthem 'Deutschland Uber Alles' and talked about giving "two fingers" to British concern.

Mr Drumm and Mr Bowe are heard laughing at the concerns that the movement of money was causing a rift between Ireland and its EU partners.

Drumm declares to his colleague: "So f***in' what. Just take it anyway . . . stick the fingers up."



Another clip revealed how David Drumm was planning to burn bondholders for nearly €9bn as part of a last-ditch plan to save the bank.

According to the tapes, Mr Drumm instructed director of treasury John Bowe to get ready for a huge, cost-saving 'bond buyback' just four days before he was forced to resign his position at the toxic bank.

Separately, Drumm also told Bowe he wanted to punch the then finance minister Brian Lenihan out of frustration.

When the tapes were published in 2013, Mr Lenihan’s aunt, former Fianna Fail deputy leader Mary O’Rourke, came to

The tapes showed Mr Drumm and other executives were full of "hubris" and sounded like a "bad rugby team" which had a problem with the authorities, she said.

"Brian didn't succumb to that, he would have smelled it coming," she said.

Read more here:

David Drumm gets 15 month suspended sentence for providing unlawful loans to 'Maple 10' businessmen Jailed David Drumm will get to keep his €4.4m pension pot


Nine-year Anglo probe ends as jailed Drumm admits unlawful loans Shane Phelan: The Anglo trials have shown the good, the bad and the ugly of white-collar investigations Who were the Maple 10 and why were they given loans to buy Anglo shares? Drumm pleads guilty to giving unlawful loans to clients in last Anglo case


From Anglo Irish Bank to Mountjoy: What prison life will be like for disgraced banker David Drumm


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