Sunday 8 December 2019

Dearbhail McDonald : Anglo led a merry dance at banker's house party

Dearbhail McDonald

LANIGAN's Ball is a traditional Irish song about a wild party that ends with rows and absolute ructions.

Its invocation yesterday by High Court judge Peter Kelly was, then, somewhat appropriate, not just because the riotous lending rave started by nationalised lender Anglo Irish Bank and aped by other banks has ended in a potential €90bn pool of tears -- €50bn for the banks, €40bn for NAMA -- but also because the alleged efforts by its exiled former CEO David Drumm to keep his half share of his family home in Malahide out of Anglo's reach has involved the legal equivalent of dancing skills that a Riverdancer might struggle with.

David and Lorraine Drumm arrived home from the US in 2003, after establishing a foothold for the bank stateside. The couple bought a home, as married couples do, and Abingdon was registered in both names, as married people's houses are.

The early 2009 kamikaze-style demise of Anglo, coupled with its pursuit of loans taken out by former directors -- not to mention the adverse publicity -- prompted David Drumm to seek a return to America.

Before he did so, Abingdon was transferred in May 2009 into the sole name of Lorraine Drumm, who owes no money to Anglo. The Drumms said the transfer was for tax reasons; Anglo cried foul and claimed the transfer was designed to defraud it of David Drumm's half share of Abingdon.

The necessary litigation ensued, with Anglo suing not only Mr Drumm for the return of a cool €8.5m, but also suing both Lorraine and David seeking to undo the May 2009 transfer.

The big dance was set to open in the Commercial Court next week, but it descended into a brawl when David Drumm, now living in Boston, filed for voluntary bankruptcy, putting Anglo in a tailspin.

The High Court was meant to deal with the issue yesterday, but it emerged that on Monday night Lorraine Drumm offered to transfer Abingdon back into both her and her husband's names.

Lorraine Drumm, who denies any fraudulent transfer, claimed the re-transfer would settle her quarrel with Anglo.

But Anglo fears that if she transfers the house into both names -- after Drumm has filed for bankruptcy -- that he will manage to hold on to his original half share after all.

The party continues next week at the Anglo/Drumm ball.

Irish Independent

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