Cowen, Fitzpatrick ‘met before Druid’s Glen golf game’

Banking inquiry: Gary McGann says they met at Fintan Drury’s home

Former non-executive director of Anglo Irish Bank Gary McGann has claimed the Financial Regulator was fully briefed on Sean Quinn’s Contracts for Difference

Former non-executive director of Anglo Irish Bank Gary McGann has claimed the Financial Regulator was fully briefed on Sean Quinn’s Contracts for Difference

 

The banking inquiry has heard a meeting took place in the home of a former non-executive director at Anglo Irish Bank before an infamous golf outing.

Former non-executive director of Anglo Irish Bank Gary McGann said he met former Taoiseach Brian Cowen, former chairman Sean Fitzpatrick and Central Bank director Alan Gray at the home of Fintan Drury before a game in Druid’s Glen in July 2008.

Mr Drury and Mr Cowen have both given evidence before the inquiry and did not detail the location of the meeting.

He said banking issues were not discussed at any point during the day and it was a general discussion about the economy.

Mr McGann said: “We did not discuss banking to my recollection.”

Mr McGann also said the Financial Regulator was fully briefed on Sean Quinn’s Contracts for Difference from the outset.

He said the Regulator was informed at all times about the shareholding and the bank’s efforts to deal with the CFDs.

He said: “I was aware that there were significant exchanges with the regulator during the Quinn CFD period.

“If the regulator had wanted to bring any matter or concern to the board’s attention, my expectation was that he could have written to the Chairman or Senior Independent Director and it could have been dealt with promptly.

“I had no reason, at that time, to believe that the regulatory regime was inadequate.”

Mr McGann was questioned about where the buck lay for the collapse of Anglo Irish Bank.

He said the responsibility rests with the chief executive of the institution and not the board.

Fianna Fáil’s Michael McGrath questioned whether the board who appoints the CEO should accept its share of the blame.

Mr McGann said the ultimate responsibility lay with the chief executive of every organisation.

He said at no point in his recollection where questions raised about the performance of CEO.

Mr McGann said during his time at Anglo he believed it was a properly run organisation.

He said he has since become aware of certain practices in the bank and cited the Quinn shareholding as one of the issues that compounded the bank’s ultimate demise.

Mr McGann told the inquiry: “Looking back, the bank misjudged the risks that built up in the expansion of lending, particularly property lending, in the years up to 2009.

“Other banks in Ireland and around the world did too. Factors that seriously compounded the risks to the bank’s business model were the Quinn CFD buildup and then the worldwide liquidity collapse in autumn 2008.

“I look back with great regret at the collapse of the bank and what that has cost its employees, shareholders and Ireland.”

Mr McGann said there was and is still no definitive evidence of Mr Quinn’s stakeholding in the bank.

He said he was concerned from the start that markets and investors were not aware of such a position.

Mr McGann said he became aware of it when the media published details of it and then he and members of the board started asking questions.

Mr McGann was also a member of the remuneration committee from 2007 and said the pay was based on Anglo being a strong performing bank.

He said the pay of senior executives was justified in that regard.

Aside from the Druid’s Glen golf outing, Mr McGann also attended an event hosted by the board of Anglo in St Stephen’s Green in April 2008 but he insisted Anglo or banks were not discussed.

This is a source of contradiction between Mr Cowen and former chief executive of Anglo David Drumm.

The former chief executive claims in the correspondence he asked Mr Cowen to directly intervene with the National Treasury Management Agency to increase the level of deposits held with Anglo Irish Bank.

Mr Drumm alleges Mr Cowen said he had intervened with the NTMA but nothing had changed.

In his evidence to the committee, Mr Cowen said the event was a purely social occasion and no business was discussed.