“So, so…[the €7 billion] is bridged until we can pay you back..which is never. [Loud laughter]”
THAT IS JUST one stark quote taken from a set of recorded telephone conversations between top Anglo Irish Bank executives in the days leading up to its bailout in September 2008.
Published by the Irish Independent, the transcripts have shocked many listeners this morning as they reveal the extent of a cover-up by officials trying to secure the institution’s future in meetings with the Central Bank.
According to RTÉ News, both of the managers involved in the recordings have denied misleading the regulator. In a statement, former director of retail banking Peter FitzGerald said he was not a member of the bank’s executive management board during that time and was, therefore, not involved in talks.
John Bowe – who was Anglo’s head of capital markets in 2008 – also dismissed allegations that he was a direct or indirect participant in the actions of Anglo Irish Bank in the days leading up to that fateful bailout night.
The recordings, taken some time in mid-September 2008 (after Lehman Brothers had collapsed in the US), include mentions of possible nationalisation, the then-CEO David Drumm and the extent of Anglo’s liquidity problems.
Here are just 9 more of the key quotes:
John Bowe recalling what management told the Regulator during an evening meeting:
To cut a long story short…look, what we need is seven billion euros.
Bowe recalling how the Regulator responded:
Jesus that’s a lot of dosh…Jesus fucking hell and God…well do you know the Central Bank only has €14 billion of total investments so that would be going up 20…Gee…that would be seen. Jesus you’re kind of asking us to play ducks and drakes with the regulations.
Bowe on what would happen if the money wasn’t made available:
Well it has to happen. It has to happen, because if it doesn’t happen we’re going to hit a wall in the next week….We’re already in breach, you know.
Peter Fitzgerald responding to Bowe’s summary of the meeting:
Em, there’s a lot at stake here isn’t there?
Fitzgerald asks how the figure of €7 billion was arrived at:
Just, as Drummer [CEO David Drumm] would say, ‘I picked it out of my arse’.
Bowe on what the actual monetary requirement could be:
That number is seven but the reality is we need more than that. But you know, the strategy here is you pull them [the Central Bank] in, you get them to write a big cheque and they have to keep, they have to support their money, you know.
Fitzgerald shows his understanding:
They’ve got skin in the game and that’s the key.
Bowe on the lie to the Regulator:
If they saw the enormity of it up front, they might decide they have a choice. You know what I mean? They might say the cost to the taxpayer is too high…if it doesn’t look too big at the outset…if it doesn’t look big, big enough to be important, but not too big that it kind of spoils everything, then, then I think you can have a chance. So I think it can creep up.
Bowe on what could happen next:
I don’t think we’re an easy sell to anybody. So, do I think it’s going to be possible to offload it? No, I don’t. What will it end up being? It could be breaking it up and selling individual books, it could be nationalisation, you know.
Hear the full transcripts on the Irish Independent’s website>