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Dan White: It's their fault

Ireland has suffered a financial holocaust with the likely net cost of keeping the banks in business set to top €80bn. Who is to blame for the reckless behaviour that has squandered this country's future for decades to come?

Sean FitzPatrick tops the list of guilty men.

It is now clear that Seanie's Anglo was a cowboy bank and that FitzPatrick himself was no more than a flimflam man. This arrogant, permatanned chancer has ruined this country for years to come. He must be held accountable for his actions.

So too must Michael Fingleton at Irish Nationwide. He also ran riot during the Celtic Tiger years, lending money to any property developer who couldn't persuade Seanie to fund his latest get-rich-quick scheme.


While FitzPatrick and Fingleton were by far the worst offenders they were by no means the only ones.

They were aided an abetted by a regulatory regime that wasn't so much lax as non-existent. Patrick Neary was the Financial Regulator who either couldn't or wouldn't regulate while his boss, former Central Bank governor John Hurley, didn't want to know as he counted down the days to his pension.

Successive Taoisigh and Finance Ministers including Bertie Ahern, Brian Cowen and Charlie McCreevy must also take their share of the blame. So too must the bosses of the other banks including Eugene Sheehy at AIB and Brian Goggin at Bank of Ireland who, with the Financial Regulator failing to rein in either FitzPatrick or Fingleton, threw caution to the winds.

So what exactly will we be paying for the mess created by Seanie and co?

Under tough new regulations drawn up by the new Financial Regulator Matthew Elderfield, AIB will have to raise a further €7.4bn of fresh capital while Bank of Ireland will have to find €2.7bn. That's €10.1bn.


Throw in the €7bn which they received from the taxpayer last year and that brings the total cost of recapitalising Ireland's two main banks to €17.8bn.

But that isn't even the half of it. AIB will be transferring €23bn of bad loans to NAMA and Bank of Ireland €12bn, another €35bn.

Add it all up, and the total bill for bailing out Ireland's two main banks could run as high as €53bn.

If you think things are bad for AIB and Bank of Ireland just look at Anglo and Irish Nationwide. Yesterday Brian Lenihan revealed that Anglo would need up to €18.3bn of fresh capital, on top of the €4bn which it received last year, to stay in business.

It will also be transferring up to €36bn of bad loans to NAMA. This will bring the total gross cost of saving Seanie's rotten bank to something like €58bn, a truly incredible sum.

Things are almost as bad at Irish Nationwide It needs €2.6bn of fresh capital and will be transferring about €8bn of bad loans to NAMA for a total gross cost of €10.6bn.

By the time the €875m of fresh capital required by EBS -- and the €1bn of bad loans it is transferring to NAMA -- are included, the total gross cost of keeping Ireland's bankrupt banks in business comes to something like €123bn.

Yes, there is an element of double counting here. At least some of the fresh capital required by Bank of Ireland and AIB will consist of the state merely converting the €7bn of preference shares it put in last year into ordinary shares.

There's also the fact that NAMA is receiving an average 47pc discount on the bad loans it purchases from the banks, bringing the total cost of buying €81bn of bad loans down to about €43bn.


Even so, no matter how you slice and dice the numbers, the net cost of keeping the banks going will be over €80bn.

With the exception of whatever private capital AIB and Bank of Ireland can raise, a few billion euro at best, virtually all of this cost will fall on the taxpayer.

And now that the bills are falling due it is the little man and woman who must bear the cost.

While our bandit bankers, useless regulators and preening politicians get to draw their bullet-proof pensions, the rest of us face the prospect of decades of higher taxes, unemployment and emigration as we pay for their excesses.