Belfast Telegraph

Irish taxpayer faces unlimited liability over Anglo

The Irish taxpayer is facing an unlimited liability over more than 20 "legacy" lawsuits issued against Anglo Irish Bank.

State-owned Anglo is being sued in all the main markets in which it conducted business, including Ireland, the UK, Europe and the US.

The Republic's Department of Finance has admitted that the taxpayer, who is pumping some €22bn into the bank which will never be recovered, will also foot any legal bills and damages arising from successful civil lawsuits against the lender.

This is because no indemnity clauses were contemplated in either the 2008 banking guarantee or the recapitalisation scheme, to ring fence the taxpayer from any possible litigation liabilities.

Decisions on fighting the litigation will be taken on a case by case basis. Anglo, whose board members are indemnified from lawsuits, has been receiving advice from the Attorney General's office.

More than 50 High Court lawsuits have been lodged against Anglo, but the bank says that only 20 are related to "legacy" issues that are being investigated by five regulatory bodies, including the Garda Fraud Squad.

These include the secret share deal arranged by the bank to buy out part of businessman Sean Quinn's stake in the bank and Anglo's €7.45bn loan arrangement with Irish Life & Permanent.

The bulk of Irish claims has been made by small shareholders.