Denis Casey profile: ILP boss who did not recall authorising loans

He became chief executive as US subprime mortgage crisis triggered financial meltdown

 Denis Casey: took regulator’s admonition on board that Irish banks needed to “circle the wagons” . Photograph: Collins Courts

Denis Casey: took regulator’s admonition on board that Irish banks needed to “circle the wagons” . Photograph: Collins Courts

 

Denis Casey, who qualified as an accountant in the early 1980s, earned his stripes working for Irish Life Assurance doing weekly door-to- door cash collections in working-class housing estates around Dublin.

Later, he held a variety of roles in Ireland and the UK for the company. By 1998, he was the chief operating officer in Irish Life’s retail division. Following the merger of Irish Life and Irish Permanent a year later, he was appointed chief executive of Irish Life Retail.

In June 2005, he was appointed chief executive of Permanent TSB before becoming ILP Group chief executive in May 2007. The timing was bad. The US subprime mortgage crisis had triggered a global financial meltdown.

By late 2007, ILP had begun to rely heavily on ECB borrowings to maintain liquidity. In March 2008, ILP was given a dressing down by the Central Bank over its size, as revealed in the bank’s 2007 end of year results.

Later, he met the Central Bank governor, John Hurley, and financial regulator Pat Neary. There, the concept of the “green jersey agenda” – Irish banks supporting each one another during the crisis – was first raised.

During interviews with detectives, Casey said he had taken the regulator’s admonition very much on board that Irish banks needed to “circle the wagons”. Later, he said he briefed Peter Fitzpatrick on the agenda.

He said he had no recollection of authorising the “back to back” loans which saw Anglo place €1 billion with ILP in return for an overnight placement of €750 million in corporate deposits from Irish Life Assurance.

However, Fitzpatrick told detectives Casey had approved the deal. “He gave me his authority . . . to execute the transactions. It is a flight of fancy to suggest I was doing a solo run on this. I couldn’t have proceeded with this transaction without my chief executive’s approval.”

The help from ILP at Anglo’s half-year reporting date was reciprocated by Anglo when ILP reported in June. ILP sent more than €3 billion in loans to Anglo and Anglo sent €3 billion cash deposits to ILP.

In September 2008, Anglo requested a reprise of the co-operation. Then, Anglo’s chief executive, David Drumm, took Casey by surprise and proposed a merger.

Unenthusiastic

Blaming Anglo for the articles, Casey was furious when he met Drumm and Séan FitzPatrick. Drumm mocked him later, saying in recorded calls, played at the trial, that Casey had “a f**king brick wall built in front of him” and “kept saying very, very stupid things”.

FitzPatrick approached Casey and his chairman, Gillian Bowler, as the meeting ended, suggesting they let “bygones be bygones” and asked if the mutual support would continue. Casey agreed that it would.

FitzPatrick told gardaí that Casey had told him he had done so because, despite the animosity, he was acutely conscious that ILP needed support from Anglo to manage its ECB borrowings in December.

ILP had to keep its options open. In doing so, it would be complying with the directions of the regulator and Central Bank, FitzPatrick told detectives. Later, FitzPatrick said Casey had told him that ILP deposits to Anglo were backed up by Anglo collateral and therefore were risk-free.