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Anglo link to Sinn Fein fundraiser in New York

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David Drumm. Photo: Frank McGrath

David Drumm. Photo: Frank McGrath

David Drumm. Photo: Frank McGrath

Tanaiste Joan Burton has said Sinn Fein should appeal to one of its wealthiest US donors to encourage former Anglo Irish Bank CEO David Drumm to return to Ireland to appear before the banking inquiry and to assist gardai with their investigations into the failed bank.

The Tanaiste's call came after it emerged that representatives of Safway Atlantic, a major scaffolding company based in New Jersey where Mr Drumm now works as a consultant, attended the $500 (€400) a plate fundraiser held by Sinn Fein at the five-star Sheraton Hotel on Times Square in New York last Thursday night.

"It would be very helpful indeed if Sinn Fein would appeal to its wealthy donor to help facilitate the return of Mr Drumm to help our various banking inquiries and investigations," Ms Burton told the Sunday Independent.

While the former Anglo Irish Bank chief works out of Safway Atlantic's offices in the New Jersey town, Carlstadt, it is understood that he is not an employee of the company, which, according to official filings with the US Department of Justice, donated $5,000 to Sinn Fein's US fundraising arm, Friends of Sinn Fein, during the six-month period ending last April.

A source familiar with Mr Drumm's circumstances told the Sunday Independent that the former bank boss has been working as a consultant and financial advisor to Safway Atlantic's former president and current chairman, Michael Breslin and his brother, John.

In his role as consultant to the Breslins, it is understood Mr Drumm has advised them in relation to the restructuring of property deals in the US and on the acquisition of their companies' bank loans.

The Breslins were longstanding clients of Anglo Irish Bank prior to its collapse.

Natives of Kells, Co Meath, the Breslin brothers have been hugely successful in business since relocating to the US.

Having acquired a company called Atlantic Scaffolding in 1990 for $3m, the Breslins built the business to the point where they managed to sell it for some $165m in 2008.

Efforts by the Sunday Independent to contact the Breslins for comment yesterday were unsuccessful.

An SF spokesman said: "We want to see justice served on all those culpable in the Irish banking crisis. This includes former bankers, former ministers and officials who contributed to the crash. Those responsible for the crisis must be held fully to account.

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"Joan Burton is part of a government that has failed abysmally to secure a deal for Ireland on retrospective recapitalisation. Despite their announcements of supposed 'game-changing' agreements with Europe nothing has materialised.

"It would be a better use of Minister Burton's time to fix the fiasco of water charges, rather than fixating on who is working for somebody who attended a dinner on the other side of the Atlantic."

Leaving aside the Tanaiste's appeal to Sinn Fein to assist in efforts to secure Mr Drumm's return to Ireland to face questioning by gardai, the issue may be decided in the US courts within weeks.

Indeed, as the Irish Independent revealed on October 13, a preliminary court hearing in relation to the former Anglo chief's possible extradition is due to take place in the United States later this month.

The decision to seek Mr Drumm's extradition comes after extensive consultations between officers from the Garda national fraud bureau and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions here.


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