Vulture capitalists, corrupt politicians and poverty

Wilbur Ross is a billionaire businessman who specialises in taking over, restructuring and selling on distressed businesses.

Some have referred to him as a grave dancer or vulture capitalist.

He is a key member of a consortium that bought 35% of Bank of Ireland last year to keep it out of state ownership. He personally owns 9% of the bank.

Mr. Ross is obviously a man who checks out every detail surrounding a venture before he commits large amounts of cash.

I assume therefore that the comments he made to George Lee about how well Ireland and its citizens are dealing with the current crisis are meant to encourage the markets while at the same time trying to convince Irish citizens that their situation is not so bad.

It’s very tough medicine but it’s necessary.

The Irish people understand that there’s a big problem, they understand there’s only one way out so as far as I can see they’re bravely gritting their teeth and they’ll get through it.

If Mr. Wilbur actually believes what he says then he’s not as well informed as he should be.

He might, for example, find it useful to listen back to a discussion between Marian Finucane and Irish Times columnist Conor Pope on the brutal reality facing a good percentage of Irish citizens.

Keeping in mind that the average industrial wage is €35,000 it has been found that to run a household, without being lavish, costs the average Irish family about €1,000 per week – after tax.

This figure does not include holidays, social life and expensive events like Christmas.

Neither does the figure include property tax, water charges, or the big increases recently announced for electricity and gas.

It does not take account of cutbacks and extra taxes and charges which are coming down the road in the December budget.

Recent research by the Irish League of Credit Unions found that 1.82 million adults say they have less than €100 per month to spend after bills have been paid.

It was also found that about 17% of adults, about 602,000 people, say they have absolutely nothing left for discretionary spending once the bills have been paid.

More than 150,000 people are unable to pay their mortgage and 300,000 are in negative equity.

About 300,000 are struggling to pay gas and electricity bills.

Wilbur Ross couldn’t be more wrong when he says the Irish people are gritting their teeth and getting on with it.

Irish citizens are still in transition from relative prosperity to a level of poverty not seen since the 1940s.

This catastrophe is entirely down to the corrupt political system that has ruled Ireland from at least the early 1980s and which still holds power today.

People like Wilbur Ross are ruthless businessmen coming in to suck as much blood as possible from the rotten carcass of the first republic which received its final and fatal blow from its corrupt political system on 29 September 2008.

Looking at the big picture Irish citizens have just two things to consider.

Are they going to meekly accept severe poverty for the coming three or four decades?


Are they going to allow the corrupt political system that brought them to such poverty to continue to exist?

Time will tell.

Goodbody: Getting it wrong

From the Attic Archives

Ireland is on track for the softest of economic landings, according to Goodbody Stockbrokers in its latest economic report entitled Strategy 2001 (Irish Examiner 2000).

In light of what has happened in the mean time the final paragraph in the report is interesting.

With mortgage indemnity guarantees in place, lenders are well insulated against capital losses, unlikely though they may be.

In 2003 Goodbody confirmed its prediction (Irish Times).

In a review of the economy released on the day the Minister for Finance Mr McCreevy published the Government’s spending Estimates for 2004, the broker (Goodbody) says Ireland’s “soft landing” is now a reality.

Whatever happens; the Quinn family will be treated with respect

The first thing to be said about the Quinn contempt ruling is – No one will go to jail.

That’s not how things are done in Ireland. The Quinn’s are ‘respectable’, they’re part of the ruling elite of Ireland.

If they were sent to jail it would truly be revolutionary.

Revolutionary because it would be the first time in the history of the state that people of power and influence were actually dealt with in the same manner as ordinary citizens are dealt with when it comes to crime and punishment.

The judge has, apparently, three options. Jail, jail and a fine or a simple fine.

Her decision will depend on what deal can be worked out before Friday between the State, Anglo Irish Bank and the judge.

Everybody will be working away feverishly to work out a deal to save this ‘respectable business family’ from their own greed, arrogance and criminality.

And, of course, there will be no question of charging this ‘respectable family’ with something as ignominious as the crime of perjury.

Over the decades it has become clear that the crime of perjury only applies to the little people.

Here are some quotes from the judge regarding ‘truth telling’ in her court.

Sean Quinn’s evidence was not credible.

Impossible to accept the evidence of Sean Quinn Senior.

Sean Quinn’s son was not telling the truth.

The evidence of Sean Quinn’s nephew, Peter Darragh Quinn was most untruthful.

(The Quinn’s) have acted in a blatant, dishonest and deceitful manner.

They have consciously misled courts here and elsewhere.

The behaviour of the respondents outlined in evidence before me is as far as removed from the concept of honour and respectability as it is possible to be.

We can be absolutely sure, however, that the Quinn family will be treated with honour and respect with it come to handing out justice.

Sean Quinn: How is he going to manage?

It may be a beautiful day weather wise but I can tell you I spent the day sobbing and crying after hearing Sean Quinn’s evidence in court today.

I’m 65 and have never been involved in litigation, have never been in the High Court. Anglo bullied my out of my office, wrecked my business, wrecked my reputation, wrecked my country, took my pride and now want to put me in prison.

I tell you it would melt the heart of the most hardened banker.

I simply don’t know how this great man is going to manage on his remaining millions and massive mansion.

Battle for INM reaches end game

It looks like the battle for control of Independent news and media (INM) is reaching its end game.

This morning an anonymous buyer bought 13 million shares in the group.

RTE business editor, David Murphy, said the buyer couldn’t be Dermot Desmond, Denis O’Brien or the O’Reilly’s because they would have to notify the Irish Stock Exchange of any such purchase.

All I can say is – bless his innocence.

If Denis O’Brien and his pal Dermot Desmond win the battle the first casualty, apart from the current CEO Gavin O’Reilly, is likely to be the Editor of the Sunday Independent Anne Harris.

Harris wrote a trenchant article recently drawing attention to the dangers for press freedom if Denis O’Brien gains control. She expressed particular worry about O’Brien’s close relationship to Fine Gael.

The reason all this matters to the Sunday Independent is that we may be about to lose one of the most important tools of transparency – press freedom.

Take a government with an obscene majority, allow a media mogul who has influence – O’Brien makes no secret of his desire for influence – with the dominant party and before long it may not be just an appearance of the dictatorial.

Mr. Appleby or Mickey Mouse in charge of ODCE – No difference

The Director of Corporate Enforcement, Paul Appleby, is the latest high profile civil servant to announce his retirement in order to avoid losing pension and lump sum entitlements.

By leaving now Mr. Appleby will be paid a lump sum of €225,000 of which only the final €25,000 will be subject to tax. He will also receive an annual pension of €73,000.

RTEs Business Correspondent, David Murphy, who described Mr. Appleby as a ‘very important individual’ did his best to make it sound as if Mr. Appleby’s departure was an important event especially in respect of the ongoing ‘investigation’ into Anglo Irish Bank.

Nothing could be further from the truth. If Mickey Mouse is chosen to replace Mr. Appleby the outcome of the Anglo Irish Bank ‘investigation’ will be the same – nobody will be charged, nobody will be jailed.

Mr. Appleby has been in charge of this so called enforcement agency that has never, not once, managed to bring any significant charges against any significant individual or organisation in its ten year history.

The ODCE was established after a series of corporate scandals (read major corporate fraud and criminality).

It was established specifically to deal with corporate fraud and criminality, it has failed totally in its remit.

It has never, not once, managed to nail any significant individual or organisation despite the fact that financial fraud and criminality is endemic within the Irish financial sector.

The ODCE, in common with all other so called enforcement agencies in our blighted country, is a useless toothless tiger and like all other so called enforcement agencies is designed, effectively, to prevent white collar criminals being brought to justice.

As Mr. Appleby heads off into the sunset with his (lottery) lump sum and pension he may feel he deserves his rewards.

If he does then he’s delusional.

In common with many other senior civil servants who were charged with serving the best interests of the Irish people Mr. Appleby has failed in his duty.

Copy to:

Mr. Appleby

Custom House Capital: Victims still waiting for justice

I see the victims of the Custom House Capital fraud have been given until March 23 to apply for compensation.

Victims can claim up to a maximum of €20,000 which, of course, is mere chickenfeed in comparison to what has been lost.

Some victims have lost everything including their homes and any means of providing for themselves in retirement.

One woman lost close to half a million so twenty grand, if she gets that, will mean little.

Meanwhile, the fraudsters responsible are still walking the streets enjoying the same rights and freedoms as law-abiding citizens.

The Garda Fraud Squad is, allegedly, investigating the matter but victims would be strongly advised not to hold their breaths.

What we seem to be witnessing here is the usual response to alleged white-collar crime in Ireland.

The matter is shunted into a sideline allowing so called regulators; police and politicians to wash their hands of responsibility while the victims are left to suffer the consequences.