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Ex-Anglo CFO: "I don’t think anyone foresaw the scale of crisis"

Matt Moran, CFO at the bank between 2004 and 2008, acknowledged that he was granted immunity from prosecution with regard to all affairs at Anglo.

3/9/2015 Matt Moran, former Chief Financial Office Moran arriving for the Banking Inquiry this afternoon Source: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

Updated 23.59

THE BANKING INQUIRY has upped its game over the last day and a half with witnesses from the disgraced institutions Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide Building Society appearing left, right and centre.

Yesterday saw INBS’ Michael Fingleton give his side of the story, and today another prize witness gave testimony – Anglo’s Chief Financial Officer at the time of the crash Matt Moran.

Mayo man Moran, who has worked in Luxembourg since 2011, was effectively the second in command behind David Drumm at Anglo in the fraught days leading up to the state bank guarantee being launched in September 2008.

He most recently testified for the state at the trial of former executives Seán Fitzpatrick, Willie McAteer and Pat Whelan, something, he acknowledged later to the committee, that led to him being granted personal immunity from prosecution with regard to all matters Anglo-related.

matt1 Source: Oireachtas.ie

Like essentially all witnesses to the inquiry Moran’s opening statement, which was relatively tame, was capped by an apology for the “calamity” inflicted on the Irish economy.

“I would like to express my sincere and deep regret for the great hardship the failure of the bank inflicted on so many people,” he said.

At the same time, Moran was keen to emphasise that Group Finance, his division, had no influence on lending practices at the bank at the time.

Green jersey

Under questioning from Eoghan Murphy TD, Moran stressed that he believed the liquidity crisis had its origins not with the failure of Northern Rock but in an enormous loss made at a French financial institution in August 2007.

em Eoghan Murphy Source: Oireachtas.ie

Murphy countered by asking why the bank had taken so long to react effectively to the liquidity crisis.

“I don’t think anyone foresaw the scale of crisis that was to come,” Moran replied.

Moran claimed that he had no involvement with the so-called ‘green jersey agenda’, which saw the director of the central bank task the banks with a specific funding drive as of March 2008.

The inquiry has been afflicted to a great extent in its recent hearings by legal restrictions which has prevented many questions being asked of its witnesses, which has led to a somewhat reticent tone on the part of certain committee members.

When asked as to political contact from within Anglo at the time of the crisis an unfailingly polite Moran replied that he could recall two contacts made by himself at the time – with Enda Kenny and Beverly Cooper Flynn, who are both from Castlebar as is he.

“To my knowledge Anglo had little or no political contacts,” he said.

Any contacts had to be effectively started from scratch.

Risk and finance

Moran said that he thought the decision to merge the bank’s risk and finance functions under one umbrella in 2007 was fundamentally “not right”

“It’s not right in a bank to combine the risk and finance sections in a bank – they perform fundamentally different functions,” he said.

Moran acknowledged that he had had a lunch meeting with economist Morgan Kelly, who infamously predicted the ultimate financial crisis, and that he found him to be “very interesting, and ultimately proven to be very, very right”.

“The record will show that he didn’t believe a word you were telling him,” countered senator Seán Barrett.

sb Seán Barrett

“The bank thought it was going to work through the crisis that it was beginning to face,” said Moran when asked what the prevailing attitude was in Anglo at the time.

“If people became aware that there was a rescue plan in the offing people in the banks feared, rightly or wrongly, that it would hasten the problem,” he said when questioned as to the culture of secrecy prevalent in the banks regarding the scale of the crisis.

Far from thinking we were too big to fail, rather, I think people in banks knew that we were too small, and would fail.

Barrett wanted to know how Moran felt about his many years spent working for Anglo.

“I’ve huge regret, senator,” he replied.

I worked very hard in the bank, but the outcome and what it has cost has been just enormous beyond belief.
Everyone who worked in that bank would prefer it wasn’t on their CV.

Earlier…

Earlier in the day the inquiry heard from Anglo’s former Director of Treasury Peter Fitzgerald, who became something of a household name following the publishing of the Anglo Tapes in June 2013.

6508 Peter Fitzgerald Peter Fitzgerald Source: Rollingnews.ie

Fitzgerald said that the demise of Anglo and the financial crash would be something he would “always regret”.

He refused to be drawn on specifics regarding his Anglo salary.

When asked about the issue of the Contracts For Difference (CFD) held by former billionaire Seán Quinn with Anglo Fitzgerald requested a brief adjournment so he could consult with his own legal team.

“I don’t want to say something that could turn out to be prejudicial in six months time,” he said.

Read: Former Irish Nationwide CEO Michael Fingleton tells Banking Inquiry that he feels “wronged”

Read: Enda Kenny facing motion of no confidence (and his AG could be in trouble too)

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