Last October, just one week after the banks had run crying to the Government like small boys running to their mammies because the big bad world wasn’t playing fair with them, Anglo-Irish Bank’s Seán FitzPatrick made his now legendary speech in Greystones.
The Chairman and former Chief Executive of the bank most in trouble, whose imminent collapse had forced the other banks to contact the government, decided he would dispense some advice about the forthcoming budget.
It’s time, he said, that the Goverment tackled the “sacred cows” of child benefit, state pensions and Medical Cards for the over-70s.
His speech was loudly lambasted by columnists and letter-writers, but most of them felt that it was simply bad PR and a sign that he was out of touch with the realities facing ordinary people. We thought he was a pillock, and moved on.
Turns out though, that he’s not just a pillock, he’s a corrupt, greedy, self-serving chav. Just before the end of Anglo-Irish Bank’s financial year each September he would borrow €87 million from Irish Nationwide, pay-off the loans he had in Anglo-Irish, and the re-borrow the money in October. In this way the bank didn’t have to report that it had lent €87m to its most powerful employee. And he’d been doing that each year for seven years.
He has resigned, accepting that what he did was “inappropriate”, but stressing that it was not illegal.
Is he sure? People have been buying shares in Anglo-Irish for years now, unaware that 35 per cent of its current capitalisation value was owed to it by one man, its chairman. I suspect that’s very close to being fraud.
Two other members of the board have resigned too, but the bank has an Audit Committee, a Risk and Compliance Committee, and a Financial Director. All of these people either knew of the cover-up, or are useless. Either way they should go too.
And as for our gobshite of a Financial Regulator…. he’s apparently known about this since January, but only told the Government this week. In other words, on the night the Government negotiated the bail-out of the banks, the Financial Regulator knew that the bank with the biggest bad-debt exposure had hidden loans of €87 million outstanding from its Chairman, and he decided to say nothing.
Over the last few years the banks have been found to have cheated customers on exchange rates, facilitated and indeed encouraged tax evasion, and helped banjax the economy with ill-judged and reckless lending.No-one’s been fired. No-one’s gone to jail.
The Government says it has to cut costs as much as possible. According to the Financial Regulator’s own 2008 Income and Expenditure Budget (Google is just brilliant) it’s going to cost €29.719 million this year. If the Government closed the office down completely tomorrow, it could save this money, and spend it say on cancer vaccines for 12-year old girls.
Would anyone notice any difference in the way the banks would be run? Doubt it.