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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: February 17, 2009 @ 6:35 pm

    Who are the Anglo Irish Ten?

    Harry McGee

    The unfolding drama of Anglo Irish Bank has dominated political debate in the Dáil today, with both main oppostion leaders, Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmore, quizzing Cowen about it.

    The main subject of speculation, rumour and postulation (I know, tautology central) centres around the identify of the ten investors who were granted loans in order to buy share capital.

    Kenny and Gilmore were both specific. When did the Taoiseach find out and did he know the identity? Cowen was very subdued (indeed so was Demspey sitting beside him). He said that as Minister for Finance he was advised of the “overhang” created by shares accumulated by Sean Quinn under contracts for difference. That happened in March.

    The next advice he got, said Cowen, was in July when he was told that the situation had been resolved and shareholders had invested. He indicated he wasn’t told the number of investors.

    It was only when a due diligence exercise was being conducted of Anglo Irish with a view to recapapitalisation in the New Year that this issue came to the fore and the true nature of the “investment” became known.

    Cowen said he did not know the identity of the ten, now or then. He said he only became aware of the arrangment when he was informed of it during the due diligence process. This and other issues of governance prompted the Government to nationalise the bank, according to Cowen.

    The other substantial issue that’s come to the fore is that the Financial Regulator’s office seemed to accept the legal advice from Anglo Irish Banks that it was all kosher, without gettings its own independent advice.

    This is going to run… maybe long enough – if we are unlucky – to run us all into the ground.

    • sw says:

      embarrassed about the misleading poll about non-existent guarantees?

    • Will, greystones says:

      we are now being re-visited by GUBU – it is bizzare and frankly unbelievable that Brian Cowen, as Minister for Finance at the time of the original revelation in March last or more recently as Taoiseach, at the time of the pre-nationalisation due diligence process in Anglo, was unaware of the names of the members of the ‘golden circle’. At a time when revelations of highly irregular, potentially criminal activities in the Irish banking sector were being revealed on a weekly basis, Cowen did not even have the curiosity to discover the names of a group of individuals whose actions were potentially placing the taxpayers investment in Anglo Irish bank at risk.

      we are back again to the era of ‘low standards in high palces’ – the Haughey legacy is still alive and well in Fianna Fail. This government has left us financially bankrupt, is bankrupt of ideas and is now morally bankrupt. They must now answer their own cynical call to patriotism and resign or at a minimum, seek a fresh mandate from the good people of Ireland.

    • SEANEEN OG says:

      irelands problem is same now as it was 20 yrs ago or50 yrs ago , too many gombeens and their insidious parisitic cronys in govt, which begs the question who votes for them and finds their behaviour acceptable obviously people of the same mindset, which suggests irish society is not as progressive as many like to think, pretences and veneer sonly go so far

    • JoeM says:

      From this morning’s Irish Times:
      “It emerged last night that Anglo Irish has decided not to pursue the 10 investors for the €75 million in security they offered for the €300 million in loans from the bank, because of legal problems with the loan agreement. The bank will confirm it has written off the loans in its annual report, to be published on Friday.”

      No further comment is needed!

    • Hugo says:

      Maybe I’m missing something here but in light of the recent scandals concerning Anglo, surely the public’s guarantee becomes null and void? The public was clearly misled as to the state of the institutions finances before it ‘invested’ in it? In even the smallest business transactions that would be enough to nullify any contract.

    • Nic says:

      An embarrassing situation for Mr Cowen, indeed. But not nearly as embarrassing as the snide blogger attempting to wittily relay the situation in a publication such as The Irish Times with atrocious spelling and grammatical errors.

      Reading about this sort of thing is generally far more amusing when one’s eye (and mind) is not constantly being distracted by the incompetence of the author. A relative of Mr Cowen, perhaps?

    • Dan Sullivan says:

      I suspect that Cowen doesn’t know who they are but he also does not want to know because of what he fears might be in there.

      People were lent money by a bank to buy shares in the bank and the regulator thought this was kosher? As kosher as a pork milkshake methinks.

    • Sean mckevitt says:

      Again the government have shown that they have NO GUTS what-so-ever. Cowen is always Mouthing on about TOUGH DECISIONS.
      Well Mr. Cowen , How about some tough decisions against these cowboys and your fellow-politicians. You know who those 10 people are , IT IS WRITTEN ALL OVER YOUR FACE

    • richard says:

      Anglo-Irish is in the limelight now and rightly so but let’s not forget the other festering messes that this government is leaving behind.Wait for the HSE story.

    • I don’t think the spelling is a distraction as much as this ongoing banking scandal which is distracting the population from facing the financial mess in which the country has been landed by the criminal coalition of incompetent [at best] politicians and crooked bankers.

      Isn’t it amazing how much of this clearly fraudulent and immoral activity by the bankers is ‘legal’? How could a financial regulator – now departed with a massive golden handshake and a pension for life which would keep several families in beans – accept the legal advice of the Anglo Irish Bank that the loans to the golden circle were ‘legal’ without checking it with his own legal advisers? Who provided this legal advice?

      The country has been repeatedly raped, in a financial sense, by the professional classes – lawyers at the tribunals, bankers, developers, politicians. It’s all been ‘legal’…..

    • Dan Sullivan says:

      I wonder how those members of the Oireachtas who had declared big portfolios in the register of members interests like Ivor Callely and Frank Fahey are doing these days?

      They would have been better off having a slice of the banking action too it would seem to me.

    • Hud says:

      @ Nic in 6

      Yes, the non-capitalisation of “march” and the other egregious spelling and grammatical errors by our esteemed correspondent are indeed of an order with the recapitalisation of the banks, and the issues emanating from it.

    • Des FitzGerald says:

      It stands to reason it would never have even crossed Cowen’s mind to ask who the 10 were. It is not part of the Fianna Fáil mentality to ask such questions and that partly explains why it simply can not comprehend the sort of steps needed to fix this mess. Things such as culling junior ministers, ending completeld expenses and allowances for TDs, state funding for parties and full disclosure of who funds Irish parties.

      What we face today is the lecacy of what began in FF during TACA in the 60s and which the fathers of Cowen, Lenihan and Coughlan were up to their neck in – if we think what we know now about the likes of Bertie is bad – can you even begin to imagine what strokes were pulled by FFers in the 60s and 70s that we’ll never hear about.

      If this latest recession caused by FF corruption finally breaks the back of Fianna Fáil it will be worth every job loss. Then when the dust settled we can start to create a political system to be proud of.

    • Harry says:

      I have capitalised March, Hud. So you can rest easy. The blogs do not form part of our daily working day. They are done in our spare time (see Shane Hegarty’s decision to discontinue with his blog last year).
      I have discussed my own views on the nature and essence of blogging on a number of occasions. They are instantaneous. More often than not, you don’t have a huge amount of time to gather your thoughts. By dint of necessity, they often have a rough-draft and rushed quality to them. Blogs are also more personal and less formal than news reporting or opinion writing within the pages of this newspaper.
      Neither Deaglan nor this writer pretend that we are creating art. And sadly this is often indicated (or betrayed) by typos or/and grammatical errors: when you are quickly editing your own copy your eye may not spot a ‘typo’ obvious to others; or for that matter, correct an inelegant sentence.
      Having said that, we both sincerely believe that they provide some insight or give another dimension to political reportage.
      And while I am at it…
      To Nic: I am shocked at your use of of a split infinitive in paragraph one of your comment.
      To Hud: The use of the adjective ‘egregious’ is inappropriate in the context that you have used it in. Its original meaning is ‘separated from the flock’ and is normally applied to a singular noun as, an egregious lie; or an egregious rascal.
      I know that every blog is now liable to be parsed for its various crimes against prepositions, past participles and sentence cases. For dat i ‘umbly aplogsie in avdance.

    • dealga says:

      Harry – good on you!

    • Tony says:

      It is sheer incompetence on the Goverments part to not have properly investigated these matters. Additionally, to invest seven billion in the two major banks without a full due dilligence is uterlly and totally irresponsible.
      These are very sad days for Ireland made so much worse by a wholly incompetent goverment expended the peoples monies in a reckless way.

    • Peter Barrins says:

      Over the last few decades the one common factor through all of the scandals, fraud, tax evasion and so forth is Fianna Fail. The boards of the banks, occupants of the quangos and so on are occupied by guys from the 1970′s and 80′s who have propogated the culture of ‘cute hoorism’, ‘pull a fast one’, ‘make a quick buck’ and to hell with our society. Avoidance of tax is basically avoiding ones obligation to our society – assuming we have a fair and equitable taxation system. I think what is now needed is a clear out of all the bank boards, government quangos and the government. A new start. Ireland needs to establish a reputation for high standards, tough regulations, integrity and honesty. We need a society where everyone contributes according to their means, fairly and squarely. We are not a low cost economy, we have a small population and if we want good healthcare, education and public services/infratsturcture, it has to be paid for from tax revenue. The current carry on with the banks, the stupidity of our senior government ministers and taoiseach and their inability to do anything correctly, really beggars belief. Apart from a few people having made a couple of quick bucks at the expense of a lot of people, nothing much seems to have been acheived over the past decade or so. Culturally, Ireland really needs to grow up. We need to start thinking as a society rather than a bunch of greedy, self interested, individuals.

    • Harry says:

      Peter, great comment. Concubhar has also touched on the very serious issues that lie behind the notion of ‘light-touch regulation’. On the subject of contracts for difference, it’s scary to think that it comprised 30 per cent of business on the Irish stock exchange. It’s easy to see how people can get a mote in the eye when the prospect of easy money is dangled in front of them. You could buy €2 million worth of shares by fronting up only €100,000 and could then make the profits on the €2m if the value increased. That was great when the market was still expanding. But of course, when it nosedived CFD investors had to make good on the shortfall (in the above case, stumping up the €1.9m). As bizarre as it was dangerous. It’s not even a step up from a throw of a dice.

    • Hud says:

      Harry,
      My seemingly vain attempt at sarcastic commentary was directed at Nic, not at you in any way; I know that you run off the blog in your spare time, and I intended to convey that Nic was going over the top in criticising grammar/punctuation rather than addressing the meat of the issue…

      My tone got lost somewhere in the ether.

      Thanks for the pointer on the etymology and correct usage of egregious.

    • Paul O' Sullivan says:

      Harry/Peter,

      Growing up culturally implies that Ireland as a nation moves past what Peter described, a collection of traits I like to call ‘Paddyism’ – characteristics which have contributed to the development of many nations globally.

      However, growing up means these root characteristics of our national identity will still exist. Many do not understand the deficits of ‘Paddyism’ or the advantages of having a broader-minded social conscience.

      Bear in mind your views demand,quite rightly, a change in national identity. What is more important in a change or betterment of systems is a change of national outlook, which requires education and understanding if that change is to be lasting, a kind of therapy for young adults!

      A colleague maintains Irish men and women are waiting to be ordered back to the potato-fields.

      To an point I agree. This problem is not only in our institutions, but our psyche.

      I hope I didn’t knock any grammatical fences!

    • Robert says:

      Harry in 19,

      One “die”, two “dice”. Couldn’t resist pointing that out.

      Keep up the good work. Better that the understandably outraged vent their spleen in blogging than in other, more harmful ways.

    • Ray D says:

      i think that we will find that there was nothing illegal about the various actions of the bankers – no fraud, no wrongdoing. This was just good capitalism and not something that our regulators would disallow. I think that, far from being unwilling to act, the Financial Regulator was given no powers by the politicians to act. Curbing the market is not something that our right-wing Dail would have voted for.

    • Mel says:

      I notice that our Taoiseach & his Ministers no longer refer or use the buzz word ‘transparency’. When enquiries are made as to the identity of The Golden Circle members!

      One can only assume that it’s application would only create further embarrassment to an already beleaguered government.

    • Peter Barrins says:

      Ray D,

      I’m not sure I agree with your comments. It would seem that the Financial Regulator’s Office lacked the indepedence and professional/intellectual competence to carry out its regulatory function. In relation to your comments about ‘good capitalism’ I dont think the CFD’s and Credit Default Swaps (which had been outlawed until the mid 90′s) have proven to be ‘good’. In relation to Anglo-Irish Bank, they lent existing customers money to purchase shares in their bank. This definitely is illegal as it leads to a misrepresentaiton of the share price in the ‘real’ market. Also, while some of what has occured may not be illegal in terms of breaking a specific law, surely ethics, professional conduct and the ‘spirit’ of the regulations and what is right must have be worthy of consideration? I would suggest that the current crisis has poven that while capitalism may be a viable system it most certainly requires controls and regulations and the enforcement of same.

    • Harry says:

      The ten names will be out by the end of this week, I’d say. Sunday Times has already put four names into the public domain. And there’s a chase, feeding frenzy, and the divvil and all. There have been no denial so far from the four names. As somebody pointed out yesterday, the same paper’s list of those who were definitely NOT among the Anglo 10 was far more interesting.

    • markp says:

      ref Peter Barrins above, CFD’s do not misrepresent the market price of an equity as they also lend people money to short the stock, thereby balancing out the money they lend peple to buy the stock. Hence in theory they allow a truer reflection of an equity price as they add liquidity.

    • Ray D says:

      I note that the today’s raid may or may not lead to Court action. I suspect not as I believe, as my comments were meant to relate, that no laws were broken. Light touch regulation indeed. We’ll know soon enough.

    • Harry says:

      I was going through the terms of reference for the Commission of Taxation yesterday. I notice that its terms included a request to “ensure that our regulatory framework remains flexible, proportionate and up to date”.
      Was the thinking back then, in February 2008, geared towards an even lighter touch?
      And I wonder, has the Commission altered course on this one given all that has happened since last Autumn?

    • Peter B says:

      Re: Markup – I did not suggest that CFD’s misrepresented the market price of equities. The unregulated, extended use of CFD’s, as with Anglo Irish, definitely led to a misrepresentation of their business and share price.


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