Hard-working self-made man who rose to head of lending

Whelan left the trial alone. It was his 52nd birthday

Former Anglo Irish Bank executive Pat Whelan leaves the Circuit Criminal Court, Dublin.

Former Anglo Irish Bank executive Pat Whelan leaves the Circuit Criminal Court, Dublin.


Patrick Whelan was an attentive figure throughout the 10 weeks of the first Anglo Irish Bank trial.

Whelan, the former head of Irish lending in Anglo, dressed neatly every day but, unlike his co-accused, always wore an open-necked shirt.

He grew up in inner-city Dublin, at Marlborough Street, went to Marlborough Street primary school and was the first pupil from it to go on to secondary school. Whelan’s father was a roofer who died when he was 13.

Whelan’s mother was a cleaner in the Department of Education, which is located on the same street as her home, and also was a cleaner in Imperial Typewriters on Parliament Street in Dublin 2. According to a former neighbour the Whelans were a “hard-working, decent family.”

“Pat was a good student. He went to St Joseph’s CBS in Fairview, where he was very good at maths. It was very unusual for anyone at the time from the area to go to secondary school. Times were very tough,” his former neighbour recalled.

Whelan’s grandmother’s brother was the father of Luke Kelly, the Dubliners singer.

Kelly was known in the area for turning up at the Whelans’ house to sing at Christmas and on other family occasions.

Whelan was accepted into Trinity College Dublin to study English and history about 1979 or 1980. He could not accept the place, however, as his family could not afford it. He worked in a number of jobs, including in the Irish Press , before getting a job with AIB in 1981.

According to a former colleague in the bank, Whelan’s work took him to a number of branches, including working in Co Louth and north Co Dublin.

“He was good and rising through the ranks when Anglo offered him a job,” the ex-AIB banker said. “That would have been in the late 1980s. I think he left because there were better opportunities in Anglo at the time. It was less stuffy and seen as a more dynamic place to work.”

Whelan joined Anglo as a lending executive. Like most of the bank’s staff, he was based in Anglo’s headquarters on St Stephen’s Green in Dublin.

By 1990, when Anglo was still very small, making a profit of about £4 million a year, he was an assistant manager.

In 1991 he was made manager. He hired a young man called David Drumm as an assistant manager about two years later.

By 1997 Whelan was an associate director in the bank and was mainly involved in lending. In 2002 he moved into group risk, which was led at that time by Peter Killen.

In 2004 Killen retired and Whelan took over his position as head of group risk.

Whelan was not involved in lending as the boom peaked but he was responsible for overseeing it.

This was no easy task in a bank intent on ever more rapid expansion.

Whelan was not made a director of the board of Anglo, as his predecessor had been straight away.

It was unusual at the time for a bank not to have a representative from its risk division on its board. This was perhaps an indication of Anglo’s attitude of preference for lending over risk.

In 2005 Drumm, having helped build Anglo’s business in the United States, was a surprise choice internally as the bank’s new chief executive. Whelan was not on the shortlist for the role.

Towards the end of 2006 Drumm made Whelan a board director as well as being in charge of risk.

It was only when Tom Browne, a runner-up to Drumm in the leadership race, stepped down that Whelan was made head of Irish lending.

This happened in September 2007 the same month that business tycoon Seán Quinn informed Anglo that he had built up a dangerous 24 per cent position in the bank’s shares.

Whelan was one of the bank’s senior staff trying to deal with the Quinn position as well as keeping other large clients of the bank going who all came under strain at once as credit dried up.

On January 6th, 2009, not long before Anglo Irish Bank was nationalised, Whelan produced a 28-page report called Review of Quinn Group and R elated T ransactions , which set out the bank’s various interactions with Quinn. It concluded: “Overall the Quinn saga has been very difficult and traumatic for the bank and everyone involved, and it brought us to the very edge.”

Whelan stayed on with the bank for 10 months after this report was produced before leaving.

Married with children, he is believed to be working as an accountant based in his home town of Malahide and the UK.

Whelan’s frankness was praised by Judge Martin Nolan in his closing speech to the jury when he described him as acting “candidly” and “honestly”.

“He told everyone that he knew about the whole of the entire scheme. Now, I think he was acting as he would do under th e direction of Drumm. Mr Drumm was the boss,” Judge Nolan said. Whelan left the trial alone yesterday. It was his 52nd birthday.