Little fanfare in Boston as David Drumm bows to the inevitable
Former Anglo Irish Bank chief’s return to Dublin likely to take weeks
Former Anglo Irish Bank chief executive David Drumm with his wife, Lorraine, attending one of his court hearings in the US. Photograph: Josh Reynolds
This was a very different David Drumm court hearing. Standing next to his lawyer, the former Anglo Irish Bank chief executive appeared resigned but still defiant, ready to face what’s on the road ahead.
Gone were his family, friends and other supporters. They had been in court for the two previous occasions in the Moakley Courthouse in Boston when he applied for bail while he fought extradition.
Instead of having four attorneys in court, he had just one: New York lawyer Daniel Fetterman. On Thursday, Fetterman did most of his talking at the 16-minute hearing during which Drumm threw in the towel, ending all attempts to resist his extradition back to Ireland.
The hearing was very matter of fact and procedural. He signed paperwork in front of Judge Donald Cabell and answered a few questions.
He agreed to waive his right to a probable cause hearing, set for March 1st, where he could contest the Government’s view that he had committed offences as charged, and he consented to extradition.
There was an awkward moment at the start when, after being walked into court, handcuffed and shackled, by US Marshals, Drumm, wearing green prison scrubs, was handcuffed and walked out again due to a delay. He was escorted back in half an hour later.
At this hearing, Drumm stood, in contrast to his last appearance before Judge Cabell.
There was no plea seeking bail, nothing about politicians “screaming from the rafters to get him home,” no complaints about an intrusive media or “whisper campaigns,” no declarations about his love of Boston, no claims that he had ever fled Ireland.
He was asked a series of questions by the judge about whether he knew what he was doing by waiving his rights, and that he did so knowingly and voluntarily. He gave short answers.
“I do, your honour”, “it is, your honour”, and “they have not, your honour”, said Drumm, poker-faced and confident, in response.
This fight was over last month with the second bail rejection.
When it came to bail, Drumm was fast running out of road. Denied by two judges, the Dubliner had appealed the last rejection to the First Circuit Court of Appeals, but there was only a very narrow chance of success.
“I have, for some time, wished to agree a return so that my family and I can get through this ordeal,” he told the Sunday Business Post in a weekend interview from the US prison where he is being held.
After four months of challenging extradition, he is getting his return with no conditions attached. He acknowledged in a three-page affidavit signed in court that “no representative, official or officer of the United States or of the Government of Ireland has made any promise or offered any other form of inducement.”
He had sought assurance from the Director of Public Prosecutions that they would not challenge his bail if he returned to Ireland, though that request was rebuffed. He is going home regardless.
Soon after the hearing, Judge Cabell signed the “certification of extraditability,” paving the way for his return to Ireland.
This kicks the matter over to the US State Department for Irish and American diplomats to figure out the arrangements for getting Drumm to Dublin.
The process is likely to take weeks rather than days, as the two sides coordinate how he will be handed over to the custody of the Garda.
The 49-year-old has essentially agreed to do what assistant US attorney Amy Burkart said at the first hearing in October, three days after his arrest at home: he could just consent to his extradition.
It has been a dramatic six years of life in the United States for the man who succeeded Sean FitzPatrick as chief executive and was at the controls of Anglo Irish Bank when it blew up during the 2008 financial crisis.
Drumm is wanted back in Ireland on 33 charges relating to transactions carried out in his attempts to save the bank from collapse. Those were schemes aimed at propping up the bank’s share price and deposits when investors and customers had written off the lender.
Two former colleagues were convicted in 2014 of the share support scheme, but escaped jail with community service.
The scheme, intended to manage the wind-down of businessman Sean Quinn’s massive share gamble on the bank, accounts for 31 of the charges Drumm faces.
No mention was made in court to his upcoming legal fight back in Ireland. There was just one line in the affidavit indicating his intentions in that arena.
“I have contested and will contest the charges alleged against me in Ireland before the Irish courts,” he said.
The former banker will also leave behind another outstanding legal case in the US when he returns to Ireland: his attempt (his third) to secure a bankruptcy discharge and freedom from €10 million in debts.
Drumm’s reversal in strategy in his extradition case makes sense in light of bail being rejected: why fight extradition when the bigger fight is in Ireland? By facing the music, he is facing the inevitable.
Had he continued his challenge, he would have remained stuck in a maximum-security prison south of Boston when, like his former colleagues, he might not even face jail time in Ireland if convicted.
Given his predicament, returning to Ireland is the lesser of two evils.
Now he must prepare to defend himself and join other former bankers contesting Anglo-related charges before the criminal courts.
Drumm has an eye beyond this legal morass. The court was told on Thursday that the Dubliner is trying to undergo, along with his family, biometric testing to complete applications for US resident green cards.
He clearly sees his return to Ireland, however long it might be with the court battles he faces, as being only temporary.