Google Sean Fitzpatrick (no, not the All Blacks hooker, LK), the guy who had to resign from Anglo Irish Bank after it was revealed that he had hidden his loans of between €84 million and €122 million from the bank’s shareholders for the last seven years. What he did with the loans is not clear.
The third item is an article called “5 minutes with Sean Fitzpatrick”, from the Indo in October 2006, and in answer to the question “What drives you nuts?” our hero says:
“The Hollywood set, people who aren’t real, bureaucracy, falseness.”
Anyway, Seanie’s machinations so damaged the reputation of Anglo Irish that it became the Humpty Dumpty of the financial world, and no matter what promises the government made about backing it the price just kept dropping till eventually it had to be nationalised. So now the responsibility for trying to collect dodgy loans from hard pressed property developers has fallen on all of us.
But there are a couple of upsides to this. The first is that we – you, me – own a bank. Go into one of their branches tomorrow and help yourself to biros and coffee. Tell the staff to buck up. Tell one of them to get a haircut. Promote someone at random.
Bring a tin of paint and a brush with you and paint the front door a different colour. Write a strongly worded letter to the Times saying how disgraceful it is that we own a bank with the word Anglo in the title, was it for this that we fought at Boolavogue, the bloody RDS is bad enough, not to mention the British Isles, etc, etc.
Write to the Board, tell them you’ve given yourself a car loan, and ask them to hide it on their Balance Sheet.
To anyone who might suggest that I’m being facetious, and that this would be no way to run a bank, may I simply direct you to the previous management, who made just as big a balls of it but got paid buckets of money as well.
The other good thing about all this is that Sean “I did nothing illegal” Fitz no longer owes €84 million to a bank that he was using as his personal plaything. He now owes it to us. So I suggest, firstly, that all the secrecy surrounding what he did with the loans should end immediately. We are Seanie’s bankers now, and if Brian Lenihan won’t tell us what happened to the money then he should go too. At a minimum he should report at least once a month how much of the loans have been repaid.
Alternatively, Saturday’s Lotto draw each week should include a section where one person is drawn out to be Seanie’s loan manager for the following week. If you’re the lucky winner you get to ring SF, ask how much of the loans will he paying back this week, and if the answer’s not satisfactory then you can suggest to him that he might like to sell something – a house, perhaps. Or a car. Or a kidney.
Of course we may never get any of it, because he may lose everything. When he originally said he’d done nothing illegal I said here that I don’t think he’s right. Selling shares on the open stock market while concealing the fact that 35 per cent of your capital value is loaned to one person – your Chairman – is fraud. Dealing in shares yourself when you know something about the loan position of your bank that is hidden deliberately may well be deemed to be insider trading – which may carry a jail sentence.
The beleagured government are trying to persuade all of us to accept the service cuts and tax increases necessary to correct the mess created by self-centred tossers like Seanie. They will find this hard to do while Seanie gets off scot-free and the spineless Financial Regulator who let him away with so much is not fired, but gets to retire early with alump sum of €390,000 and an annual pension of €130,000. They may well feel that finding some way to make these people accountable will help gain the support of the rest of us for the pain to come. Any decent legal mind – and the Dáil is full of them – could think up something to charge these people with.
And they may not have to. I read today that one investor, who is a member of the Bar, is initiating proceedings against Fitzer and three other senior bank officials. If he were to win they might well be deemed personally liable for his losses – and then of course the floodgates might often.
In the article I quoted earlier this model citizen was asked what he’d do “if he had a spare million” (if? Dear God. He said:
“I’d do something for the homeless; provide day-time facilities.”
I hope he did that. He may well need those facilities some day.