Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Anglo Irish scandal 'a sorry story'

Central Bank governor Patrick Honohan

The governor of the Central Bank has said he agrees with a judge's withering attack on the former financial regulator over a loans-for-shares scam at Anglo Irish Bank.

Patrick Honohan said the illegal July 2008 plot, which two of the watchdog's top officials at the time - Patrick Neary and Con Horan - oversaw, was "a sorry story".

Judge Martin Nolan yesterday singled out the regulator at the time, Mr Neary, for what he said was leading two bankers into error and illegality over the fraudulent 450 million euro lending.

Former Anglo directors Pat Whelan and Willie McAteer walked free from court after being told they will serve community service over the scandal. Mr Honohan stressed that regulatory reforms over the last five years ensure that the actions of the past could not occur today.

"I think there's nothing that we want to disagree with in what the judge has said. This is obviously a sorry story," he said.

"This is something that is behind us but of course the financial crisis is not behind us. It has a long period of consequence."

Mr Honohan declined to comment on the lucrative pay-off and pension Mr Neary secured when he quit as regulator - worth more than 100,000 euro a year.

He also declined to confirm if any member of staff had been sanctioned or disciplined on the back of the Anglo loans-for-shares plot. Cyril Roux, Central Bank deputy governor in charge of financial regulation, said there have been sweeping changes in the watchdog since Mr Neary resigned in early 2009.

"It applies to a regulator of the past," Mr Roux said. "It's an historical comment of what happened in 2008 but I don't think it reflects in any sense what is happening today."

Whelan, 52, a father of two, of Malahide, Co Dublin, and McAteer, 63, also a father of two, of Rathgar, Dublin, were found guilty of illegal lending after an 11 week trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

The money was provided to a group of clients known as the Maple 10 to unwind a secret 28 per cent investment in Anglo by now bankrupt tycoon Sean Quinn.

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