Europe

Anglo tapes: Ex CEO David Drumm apologises

The former headquarters of Anglo Irish Bank
Image caption Executives at Anglo Irish Bank were recorded laughing and swearing as their bank faced collapse

The former boss of Anglo Irish Bank has apologised for the "inappropriate" language he used in recorded phone calls during the bank's 2008 collapse.

The recordings were leaked to the Irish Independent newspaper and last week it published a series of articles giving details of the bankers' conversations.

Senior Anglo executives were heard joking over the bank's massive losses.

In an Irish Central interview, Mr Drumm said he was "shocked and embarrassed" by the content of the tapes.

He said there was "no excuse for the terrible language or the frivolous tone and I sincerely regret the offence it has caused".

"I cannot change this now but I can apologise to those who had to listen to it and who were understandably so offended by it."

The phone conversations have caused widespread anger among taxpayers and government ministers in the Irish Republic.

They were taped in September 2008, as the Irish government was in negotiations to bail out a number of banks, amid an unprecedented financial crisis.

Laughing

The government issued a blanket guarantee for deposits in Irish banks, effectively making taxpayers liable for the debts run up by the institutions.

In the recordings, Mr Drumm can be heard laughing while one Anglo executive sings the German national anthem, as deposits flowed in from Germany as a result of the government guarantee.

The former CEO was also recorded setting out Anglo strategy, in its attempt to persuade the Irish Central Bank to give financial support to their failing institution.

Mr Drumm told his executives to go the the central bank with their "arms swinging" and demand more money, by saying: 'We need the moolah, you have it, so you're going to give it to us and when would that be?'

In more colourful language, another Anglo executive, John Bowe, is heard saying that he plucked a figure of 7bn euros out of thin air, when the authorities asked how much money would be needed to rescue the bank.

Mr Drumm, who ran Anglo between 2005 and 2008, later moved to the United States, where he filed for bankruptcy.

'Highly stressful'

In an interview for the American website Irish Central, the former bank boss said the first he heard of the Anglo tapes was when he logged on to the Irish Independent last Monday in New York.

"I knew they were bad, bad, bad," Mr Drumm said.

He was asked by US-based journalist Niall O'Dowd if he regretted the language he had used in the calls.

The former banker said: "I accept that the tone and language used in the tapes is inappropriate and I fully understand why the excerpts published have offended many people.

"Listening to a recording made almost five years ago at a highly stressful and volatile uncertain time is both embarrassing and a shocking reminder of how much pressure my colleagues and I were under at that time."

Inquiry

Mr Drumm has denied claims that Anglo executives misled both the government and banking regulators over the true scale of the bank's losses.

The government rescue package for Anglo eventually cost Irish taxpayers around 30bn euros, which the Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny said was the "single biggest financial transaction ever made in history of our state".

The failed bank was nationalised in 2009, and the following year the Irish government needed a bailout from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Mr Kenny has said the Anglo tapes have damaged the Republic's reputation and he wants to set up a parliamentary inquiry into the collapse of the bank.

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