Drumm lawyer says extradition request for a ‘political purpose’

Ex-Anglo chief executive in court for first time since arrest by US officers on Saturday

The Irish Government's request to have former Anglo Irish Bank chief executive David Drumm extradited from the US may have been done "for a political purpose," his lawyer has told a court in Boston.

Mr Drumm appeared in the US court for the first time since his arrest by federal officers in Massachusetts on Saturday on an extradition request from the Government to face criminal charges relating to several transactions in the lead-up to the fall of Anglo.

He is charged with 33 counts including forgery, conspiracy to defraud, false accounting and breaches of Irish company law and EU law, in relation to the Maple 10 lending to buy shares scheme and the back-to-back deposits between Anglo and Irish Life & Permanent.

Attorney Tracy Miner, for Mr Drumm, told Magistrate Judge Donald Cabell that the case may be "a little bit more complicated" than regular extradition cases, questioning whether the extradition request from the Government may have been "done for a political purpose."

“Good afternoon, your honour,” Mr Drumm told the judge in his only remarks during the short hearing to set out a timeline for how the case is expected to proceed.

Ms Miner said she would be seeking Mr Drumm’s release on bail pending an extradition hearing. She said she could not imagine that she would be prepared for such a hearing in three or four months.

Assistant US attorney Amy Burkart, who is acting on behalf of the Government in the extradition case, said she would be arguing there is a "risk of flight" if Mr Drumm is released on bail and that there are "no special circumstances" that would permit his release.

The judge set a hearing for Friday at 10am for arguments on whether the former Anglo chief executive should be released on bail. He set a hearing for November 10th at 2.30pm for a status conference to determine how long the proceedings would take.

The 48-year-old former banker was led through a side door by a federal agent into Courtroom 22 of the US District Court at the John Joseph Moakley US Courthouse on South Boston’s waterfront.

Wearing an open-neck blue shirt and dark navy trousers, he was handcuffed behind his back and restrained with leg shackles when he entered court. His hands were uncuffed for the brief hearing.

The hearing was attended by Mr Drumm's wife, Lorraine. The couple have lived in the US since moving to the Boston area six months after he resigned as chief executive of the bank in December 2008.

Judge Cabell said the court must determine whether there is a valid treaty between the US and Ireland, and whether the crimes Mr Drumm is alleged to have committed are covered by the treaty.

The court must also decide whether there is probable cause to believe Mr Drumm committed the crimes as alleged.

The judge said the nature of the treaty between the countries meant there was a presumption the individual would be detained, pending their extradition hearing before the court.

“It is a presumption - it is not a fait accompli,” Ms Miner told the judge, while outlining that she will seek Mr Drumm’s release on bail.

The charges brought against Mr Drumm stem from a complaint made by the Financial Regulator to the Garda in 2009 and follow-up investigation resulting in arrest warrants being issued in relation to the 33 offences by the Dublin District Court in July and August 2014.

The offences carry maximum sentences ranging from five years’ imprisonment up to an unlimited prison term for forgery.

It is the first time that the former bank executive has been charged in criminal proceedings relating to transactions that occurred prior to the nationalisation of Anglo in January 2009.

Mr Drumm, who became chief executive of Anglo in January 2005, stepped down from the bank in the wake of the resignation of chairman Seán FitzPatrick over a hidden loans scandal.

Details of the charges against Mr Drumm emerged after the legal case against him was unsealed by the American court.

A 12-page legal complaint filed in court ahead of the hearing in Boston on Tuesday says Mr Drumm is charged with offences relating to the scheme to lend money to 10 Anglo customers in 2008 to buy Anglo shares in the unwinding of Sean Quinn’s investment in the bank and the 2008 back-to-back deposits with Irish Life & Permanent.

He is also charged with failing to disclose the investment held by the Fermanagh businessman in Anglo under an EU transparency directive.

He is charged with forgery under the Irish Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud) Offences Act 2001 and being privy to the falsification of a document as an officer of a company, a company law offence, in relation to letters sent to the 10 businessmen in the Maple 10 scheme.

The former banker is also alleged to have committed a number of offences in relation to the back-to-back deposits between Anglo and Irish Life & Permanent in 2008 that made the bank’s financial position look healthier than it actually was.

For these transactions Mr Drumm is also charged with conspiracy to defraud and false accounting with the intention of making a gain or causing loss to another by making use of an account that is false, misleading or deceptive.

The court filings say that Ireland is seeking Mr Drumm's extradition from the US under a 1983 treaty between the countries and a 2003 extradition agreement between the US and the European Union.

Speaking outside court, Ms Miner told reporters: “We’re going to see if we can get him released. It was outrageous that he was picked up on a Saturday of a three-day weekend, and we have defences.”

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell is The Irish Times’s Public Affairs Editor and former Washington correspondent