News, Current Affairs, Politics, Media, Sport, Entertainment and Life in General from Ireland
The secret recordings from this week of Anglo Irish Bank officials that disgusted the Irish public have been in the possession of certain state officials for up to four years. In 2009, investigators from the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement assisted by Garda officers raided the Anglo headquarters on the foot of court warrants. The Director of Public Prosecutions has also known the material for some time, and is now waiting to determine if prosecutions should be brought on the content of the tapes and other material. The main question now is, when did the DPP come into possession of the Anglo tapes from Anglo Irish Bank headquarters and why are we still waiting for a criminal prosecution to be initiated after four years of them being in the custody of the Gardai and other investigators? In total the state has pumped €64 billion euro of our money into the banks in this country to prop up their losses, and €30 billion of that money went into Anglo Irish Bank, who took the state for a ride when they were clearly insolvent. Anglo demanded €7 billion euro form the Financial Regulator and the Central Bank and received it on false information and veiled threats, so who was protecting and regulating the economy on the publics behalf at that time? Due to the vast passage of time that has passed since the Gardai obtained the recordings, did the DPP feel there was no need to initiate criminal proceedings on the evidence contained in the Anglo tapes or will prosecutions now happen before the end of the year?
According to Tom Brady the security correspondent with the Irish Independent, a senior Garda officer said, “We are not starting a fresh investigation, our inquiries have been ongoing for the past four years. We have been in possession of the transcripts since then and have interviewed all of the people involved as part of our inquiries. “They form part of the overall investigation and all of these matters are included in files being sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions,”. The Irish Independent said today it curtailed its coverage of the Anglo Irish Bank recordings in Friday’s paper as a result of contact being made by the DPP, due to concerns over the “potential consequences of the emergence of certain other information into the public domain.” Law lecturer at University College Cork, Seán Ó Conaill, speaking in The Cork News, has however warned that the tapes may ‘seriously scupper’ criminal prosecutions, “The lawyers of those who could be prosecuted are going to use the line that there is no way their client will receive a fair trial now in this country after these tapes.” The Government is continuing to maintain that they had no direct knowledge of the contents of the tapes, with the Minister for Justice stating on RTE Radio that it would have been inappropriate for Gardai and other investigators to inform him of the existence of the tapes or the content contained therein in the recorded conversations.
Minister Shatter this week called on politicians at the centre of the events leading to the bank guarantee of the 30th of September 2008 to reveal the details of contact they had with Anglo bankers at the time. He said, “There are former ministers who have retired, there is a former Taoiseach at the centre of this. There’s nothing to stop them telling us publicly today what engagements they had of a direct nature with executives in Anglo Irish.” Earlier in the week former Taoiseach, Brian Cowen, said, “Like everyone else, I was very surprised at the tone and content of what has been said”, but he refused to make any more comment for fears that he may prejudice any prosecutions.
Fianna Fail and Green ministers in the Government that implemented the bank guarantee scheme claim that they were unaware of the existence of the tapes that Gardai seized in 2009, even though they remained in power until February 2011. The Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, Tanaiste, Eamon Gilmore and current ministers including Alan Shatter and Michael Noonan also claim they are unaware of the content of the recordings. Is it feasible that at no time any cabinet member from the last two Governments inquired as to the content and the details of these recordings?
The Anglo tapes were also picked up by the international media this week with top selling German tabloid, Bild, running with the front page headline, “Irish broke bankers mock German customers — Deutschland Über alles”, The Wall Street Journal led with “Ireland’s PM rounds on Anglo Irish bankers,” and Reuters news agency proclaimed, “Ireland risks slip from EU poster boy to problem child,”. The negative publicity for Ireland was ratcheted up another notch by the intervention of German Chancellor, Angela Merel later in the week. When she was asked what she thought of the disparaging way in which Germany was referred to by the arrogant Anglo Elite bankers and officials she said, “I have nothing but contempt for this. For people who go to work every day and earn their money, it is very, very difficult to understand, if at all…it does real damage to democracy”. This intervention prompted The Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily to note, “They made fun of EU assistance and mocked Germany,”.
The probe into Anglo is ongoing and it is expected to be concluded before the end of the year, while the terms of an Oireachtas banking inquiry is due to be expedited through the house. Today, the Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton told the Claire Byrne programme on RTE that the Oireachtas banking inquiry needs to be resourced with politicians, civil servants, the Financial Regulator and members of The Central Bank that served at the time of the bank guarantee. However the inquiry needs to also hear from current Department of Finance civil servants and current cabinet members to find out exactly what they know, it is incomprehensible that no one currently serving in office has any information on the content of the files and conversations derived from the time of the Irish banking failure. As David Hall of the Irish Mortgage Holders Association, said on radio today, “there are multiple people who were present that are still in place, who may have known what happened on that night (of the banking guarantee).”
According to The Sun newspaper, who quote a banking source, “The conversation which has been leaked is just the tip of the iceberg. Gardai have all the recordings and they will know other damning conversations have been held. It’s also clear that other officials were busy pushing through transactions knowing the bank was coming to an end. There’s more explosive revelations to come.” The Government claims that it has not found a paper trail that clearly outlines what bankers told the Fianna Fail led coalition Government when it brought in the guarantee in 2008. That information is essential and must be revealed in the course of any Oireachtas inquiry, we also must be made aware of why there wasn’t adequate, watertight oversight and regulation of the banking sector by the Department of Finance, Financial Regulator and The Central Bank. The Irish public must be made aware of all the facts that led to €64 billion euro of their money being used to prop up a banking system, that contained a systematically failing insolvent bank, Anglo Irish, that was initially ‘loaned’ €7 billion euro and eventually capitalised with €30 billion euro of that fund, when it was clearly inoperable on. The current Government has now adopted a policy of propping up a ‘duopoly’ of banks that will be too big too fail, namely Allied Irish Bank and Bank of Ireland. That, however was the same perception around Anglo that it was ‘too big to fail’, are we putting ourselves in a position where we could see the same thing happen again in the future if we do not learn from the mistakes made in the past and if there are not proper procedures, superior regulation and criminal proceedings put in place this time around?