Former associate director of lending tells of ‘Mayday call’ on St Patrick’s Day 2008
Lorcan McCloskey leaving the the Circuit Criminal Court yesterday: said Michael O’Sullivan called him to return to Anglo’s office and effect a €20m transfer to cover Seán Quinn’s margin calls. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire
A former Anglo Irish Bank official has said he received “effectively a Mayday call” on St Patrick’s Day 2008, when he was told to return to the bank’s head office to effect a money transfer to cover margin calls on businessman Seán Quinn’s contracts for difference (CFDs).
Lorcan McCluskey, a former associate director of lending at Anglo Irish Bank, said he first he became aware of the full extent of Mr Quinn’s bet on Anglo through CFDs – investment products based on share price – on March 17th, 2008.
That day, he said, his line manager Michael O’Sullivan called him with an instruction to return to Anglo’s office on Stephen’s Green in Dublin and effect a €20 million transfer to cover Mr Quinn’s margin calls.
Mr McCluskey described this as “effectively a Mayday call” that “shifted the dynamic”. The trial has previously heard that on March 17th, 2008 – referred to as the St Patrick’s Day Massacre – the value of Anglo’s shares fell by 30 per cent.
Mr McCluskey said that after a conversation with Pat Whelan in July 2008, he undertook to prepare 10 loan facility letters for the so-called Maple 10 borrowers. He said he was aware that this was a sensitive transaction and agreed with Brendan Grehan SC, for Mr Whelan, that it was “kept tight”.
He also agreed with Mr Grehan that there was nothing unusual about the 2 per cent interest rate on the Maple 10 loans. He agreed the 25 per cent recourse provisions in the July 10th facility letter were “within the range” and that there was “nothing extraordinary” about the roll-up of interest.
Mr McCluskey said he had “never come across” a situation where 10 identical letters were prepared for 10 borrowers. He said that in October 2008, he was asked by Mr O’Sullivan to prepare a new facility letter. He said he had no direct dealings with Mr Whelan about this new letter.
Under cross-examination, Mr McCluskey said he understood the instruction had come from a meeting between Mr Whelan and Mr O’Sullivan. He said Mr O’Sullivan told him the drafting of a new letter had been approved by Anglo’s then chief executive, David Drumm, and the board.
Mr McCluskey agreed with Mr Grehan that because the Anglo share price had fallen, the individual Maple 10 borrowers had only spent €45 million on their Anglo shares, whereas the original facility letters had been for €60 million.
Asked by Judge Martin Nolan whether it would be “proper banking” to amend letters to take account of changes, the witness said: “Yes, it would be.” Mr McCluskey said that in October 2008, a new facility letter was drafted and this was dated July 17th, 2008. He said its principal change was to the recourse terms on the loans. He said the alteration removed the original 25 per cent recourse Anglo could recoup and put in place a new recourse agreement which meant the Maple 10 might be subject to no recourse whatsoever.
This 0 per cent recourse was later amended in a third letter, in January 2009, which reinstated the original 25 per cent recourse and in effect reversed the change made the previous October.
Mr Grehan put it to Mr McCluskey that one of the reasons for the new letter was because one of the Maple 10, Jerry Conlon, came back asking to borrow the extra €15 million. “If one came back looking for the extra €15 million, then the rest of them could too,” Mr Grehan said. He suggested to Mr McCluskey that “the purpose of the second letter was to stop this from happening”. Mr McCluskey agreed this was correct, that there was a need to correct the facility letters for this reason.
Mr Grehan put it to him that he portrayed himself to the jury as “the mouse that roared” by saying he refused to sign the October letter. Mr Grehan said that he never told investigating gardaí that he refused to sign, but rather that he was uncomfortable with the new letter.
Mr McCluskey repeated that he had refused to sign it. “Before yesterday the highest you put it was ‘discomfort’,” Mr Grehan said. “My discomfort manifested itself in a refusal to sign,” Mr McCluskey replied.