Entire affair ends back at regulator’s office

Judge Martin Nolan’s comments on the regulator are extraordinary

Wed, Apr 30, 2014, 08:52

He veered from, at best, forgetfulness to at times farce.

In his two days in the witness box Mr Neary said “I don’t recall” 30 times, “I don’t know” 23 times, “I can’t recall” 12 times, “I can’t/don’t/cannot remember” 12 times, “That’s a complete blank to me” once, and “I’ve absolutely no recollection” four times.

His failure to keep notes and lack of curiosity were striking features of the trial.

At one stage, for example, he recalled meeting David Drumm, the chief executive of Anglo, in his office on September 12th, 2007.

The day before Mr Drumm had been informed by Mr Quinn that he had build up a very large position gambling on his bank.

Mr Drumm was ordered by his board to inform Mr Neary about this.

However the regulator could not recall this when questioned by Michael O’Higgins SC for Seán FitzPatrick.

It was, he said, “a special meeting of a personal nature that was [what was] conveyed to me before [(Drumm] came in”.

Q: “Well, I would regard personal nature like I’m having problems at home or where I’m going on holiday. I take it we’re not talking about that?”

A: “Well it allowed for that possibility.”

Q: “It did, did it?”

A: “Yes it did because I had no idea what kind of an issue a chief executive of a financial institution might come and raise with me .”

Q: “Well, could it have something to do with finance – rather than trouble at home ?”

A: “Oh, it could be to do with anything, but I got the impression that – from Mr Drumm – that this was very much an informal chat he wanted to have with me .”

It was this type of inadequate response which destroyed Mr Neary’s credibility as a witness.

It raises serious questions about the events of the last six years and why the State has poured millions of euro into investigating bankers while failing to take a harder look at itself.

Last night the Central Bank issued a statement in response to yesterday’s ruling.

The Central Bank notes the court’s comments on the Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority’s actions at the time of the Anglo Irish Bank share purchase transaction in July 2008, it said.

“The Central Bank has substantially strengthened Ireland’s capacity in financial regulation and supervision over the past number of years and introduced sweeping changes in supervisory practices.

“It is confident that the shortcomings identified by the court would not recur today,” said the statement.

At 1130am today the new governor of the Central Bank, Patrick Honohan, will brief journalists at the launch of its annual report.

He can expect tough questions about how much the culture in Dame Street has really changed.

Nobody in his office has been sacked for incompetence or faced any sanction despite the entire collapse of Ireland’s banking system.

Easier to round up a few fall guys and give them perhaps community service.