Ex-Anglo official tells Drumm trial she amended minutes because bank chiefs told her
David Drumm denies conspiring to defraud depositors and investors
David Drumm arriving at court this week. Photograph: Collins.
The former company secretary at Anglo Irish Bank said she amended minutes of an audit committee meeting to include a reference to the transaction with Irish Life and Permanent because bank executives asked her to.
Natasha Mercer agreed with defence counsel that Donal O’Connor, the bank’s chairman, effectively told her that he had discussed the matter with two other executives and agreed the minutes should include their recollection that a discussion about ILP had taken place.
On Tuesday, she told the jury at former Anglo CEO David Drumm’s trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court that the bank’s audit committee was an independent watchdog tasked with overseeing management’s activities.
Mr Drumm (51), with an address in Skerries, Co Dublin, has pleaded not guilty to conspiring with former bank officials Denis Casey, William McAteer, John Bowe and others to defraud depositors and investors at Anglo by “dishonestly” creating the impression that deposits in 2008 were €7.2 billion larger than they were.
He has also pleaded not guilty to false accounting on December 3rd, 2008, by furnishing information to the market that Anglo’s 2008 deposits were €7.2 billion larger than they were.
Ms Mercer was being cross examined by Brendan Grehan SC, defending, on day 27 of the trial.
Mr Grehen referred to an email Mr O’Connor sent to her on February 17th, 2009, wherein he discussed his recollection of the audit committee meeting held on November 18th, 2008.
Mr O’Connor said he participated via conference call from Sydney, “very late at night, on a poor phone line”.
He said he hadn’t received certain documentation which had been emailed to him in Australia, and which was handed to those present at the meeting in Dublin.
Mr O’Connor said he had spoken to Gary McGann and Michael Jacob, who both attended the meeting, and based on all of their recollections, the minutes should state that ILP’s customer account had been discussed by the audit committee.
He also said the three executives agreed an additional comment should be added stating that “balance sheet management was normal”.
Mr O’Connor said he was concerned that he didn’t have sufficient awareness of the ILP transactions when he was appointed Chairman of Anglo on January 1st, 2008.
The court heard that he said he was not aware of the “round the houses issue” and had no background in banking.
However, Ms Mercer told Mr Grehan she didn’t feel under pressure following the communication with the bank’s chairman and said his tone was cordial.
“Mr O’Connor said he and the two others (Gary McGann and Michael Jacob) had that recollection. And, it’s up to them to agree the minutes,” she said.
She told the jury she checked her own handwritten notes, was satisfied the transaction had been discussed and included it in the final version of the minutes.
Meanwhile, a juror was released from duty after a note was handed to Judge Karen O’Connor by the forewoman, before proceedings commenced on Tuesday.
“I have released one of the jurors for the reason that she is acquainted with someone who was referred to during the proceedings,” the judge said.
As three extra jurors were empanelled at the outset of the trial in January, the trial now continues before Judge Karen O’Connor and a jury of ten men and four women.
On the opening day of the trial, Tessa White BL, defending, said Mr Drumm wished to admit to certain facts which would reduce both the length of the trial and the complexity of the evidence.