Vincent Browne: Captured by the bankers

US banking expert Professor Bill Black recently gave evidence at the Oireachtas Banking Inquiry where he pulled no punches.

He effectively stated, correctly, that at the time, Ireland was a country without a financial regulator, governed by a bunch of morons.

Later he appeared on the Tonight with Vincent Browne show where we witnessed a perfect example of the mindset that makes it possible for our country to be governed minus a financial regulator and led by a bunch of morons.

Professor Black was telling us (correctly) that the bankers were lying about the state of their finances in the run-up to the crisis.

Vincent Browne took great exception to this smear on the reputation of bankers.

Wait a minute now, this is quite serious, the insinuation on the bankers who went to see the Government that night is very serious, and I know some of them, and I don’t believe they said something they knew was untrue.

Yes, you heard right; Vincent Browne is saying he believes the bankers told the truth to Brian Cowen and Brian Lenihan on the night that our economic sovereignty was handed over to the Troika.

Even the most ignorant, the most disinterested, the most ill informed Irish citizen knows that the bankers lied through their teeth that night.

So why is it that a journalist who has spent decades investigating and analysing scandal after scandal in the Irish financial sector can mouth such an idiotic comment?

The answer can be found in these six words spoken by Browne:

And I know some of them.

This comment confirms a disturbing trend in Irish journalism. A trend that sees some journalists loses their objectivity after coming ‘to know’ those they are investigating.

And this is not the first time Vincent Browne has lost his professional objectivity as a result of ‘getting to know’ financial/political criminals.

For many years he was a strong critic of the criminal politician Haughey but in Haughey’s latter years Browne enjoyed some great nights out in Abbeyville drinking wine and discussing the old days with the gangster.

Before long he was a great admirer and defender of the traitor/criminal.

State attacks democracy and Credit Unions

I found myself checking the date today after reading this headline in the Journal.

The Central Bank wants to limit how much you can save in a credit union

No, it wasn’t April 1st so I concluded it had to be the latest, and certainly most sinister, attack by the State/Central Bank on Credit Unions in a blatant attempt to protect the interests of the greedy/corrupt banks.

The truth about politicians, regulators and bankers

Letter in today’s Irish Times.


There is now no doubt that in the past we got the kind of regulation that our governments and increasingly powerful business lobbyists wanted.

The Government appointed the regulator and, no doubt, outlined the job specifications, which seem to have been roughly: “A regulator is just a civil servant, he never gets high-falutin’ notions and doesn’t get in the way of big business. ”

Despite the appalling consequences of our lack of effective regulation and legislation in the past, John Bruton, the former taoiseach of a Fine Gael-led coalition, in his capacity as chairman of the IFSC, told the European Insurance Forum Conference in May 2013 that we needed to put a rein on financial regulation.

Some banks, he claimed, had handed back their licences because of oppressive regulation, regulation which was risk-averse. ome weeks later an American businessman, interviewed on an RTÉ radio news programme, candidly stated that one of the factors that attracted US investors to Ireland was our “low regulatory hurdles”.

Matthew Elderfield, while acknowledging the greatly improved staffing levels in the regulator’s office, has severely criticised the present government’s failure to implement recommendations he made before his departure from his position as financial regulator.

No doubt, as soon as the Dáil committee of inquiry has completed its work we will be promised effective legislation and a robust regulatory regime. However, powerful forces will be working openly and behind the scenes to dilute or hinder these measures.

Yours, etc,
Denis O’Donoghue,
Co Kerry

Elaine Byrne and judge Nolan: Clueless regarding the reality of white-collar crime

What do corruption expert Elaine Byrne and the Anglo trial judge have in common?

Both of them are utterly clueless about the reality of how things are done in our corrupt state.

Byrne tells us that our poor white-collar crime laws must be overhauled.

Despite writing an enormous tome on the subject of corruption she remains blissfully unaware that it is the State itself that is corrupt.

It is the State that ensures that those who inhabit the Golden Circle are protected from the laws that are rigorously enforced against ordinary citizens.

She seems blissfully unaware that the State will never, ever act against white-collar crime because the State and the white-collar fraternity are joined at the hip; they are both members of the same corrupt club.

The evidence for this fact is overwhelming and is outlined in great detail in her book.

Judge Martin Nolan seems to be similarly clueless of the connection between white-collar crime and the corrupt political/administrative system that (mis) governs the country.

We can see this from his comments.

I am totally surprised that the regulator did not give some warning to Anglo Irish Bank.

It seems to me incredible that the regulator did not take advice from other state agencies. I find it incredible that red lights didn’t go off in the office.

Like Ms. Byrne he seems to be totally unaware that the so-called Financial Regulator/Central Bank does not regulate at all when it comes to white-collar crime – ever.

I don’t mean light touch regulation; I mean zilch, zero, Nada regulation when it comes to crime within the Golden Circle.

To be genuinely surprised by the behaviour of the so-called Financial Regulator judge Nolan would have to be completely unaware of the decades long failure of the various so-called Financial Regulators to act against white-collar criminals.

And perhaps that is the case, perhaps he is so unaware.

Copy to:
Elaine Byrne
Financial Regulator

Patrick Neary: A warped mind-set that is by no means unique

I have reproduced below the full text of an article in today’s Irish Times by Vincent Browne regarding the evidence given by former Financial Regulator, Patrick Neary, during the recent Anglo trial.

The article is very important because it clearly illustrates just how rotten our political/administrative system has become over recent decades.

Neary makes no attempt whatsoever to give rational replies to questions. He is supremely confident that he can say whatever he likes, no matter how ridiculous.

He knows with an arrogance bred over a long and disgraceful career that nobody, no individual, no regulatory authority, no legal authority; no State authority can touch him.

His attitude of supreme immunity from accountability sees him treat the court system and by extension the State with total contempt.

His warped attitude towards his own self-respect and the good of his country is by no means unique.

A significant percentage of those wielding power and influence in our corrupt state operate with the very same warped mindset.

The meetings not noted, the questions unasked

Vincent Browne

On Thursday, March 13th, last, Patrick Neary, the former financial regulator, gave evidence at the Anglo trial about a meeting he had with David Drumm, then chief executive of Anglo Irish Bank on September 12th, 2007.

The meeting occurred on the day after Drumm and Seán FitzPatrick (then chairman of Anglo Irish Bank) had heard from the businessman Seán Quinn that Quinn had amassed, indirectly through contracts for difference (CFDs), a 24 per cent shareholding in the bank, a situation that imperilled the viability of the bank and the Irish financial system as a whole.

Arising from that revelation, the Anglo board, according to a number of its members, directed Drumm to meet and inform the regulator of the precarious situation that had transpired. There were two meetings with Neary – on September 12th and September 27th.

No recollection

Neary had no recollection of a second meeting with Drumm. He was asked by a defence counsel, Michael O’Higgins, if he had kept a note of the meeting on September 12th, 2007, with Drumm, the meeting that he did recall. Neary said he had not kept a note of the meeting.

Asked if he kept notes of meetings in the normal course of his business, he said he did but in this case Drumm had asked could he drop in to see him as there was something he wanted to discuss privately.

It was “a special meeting of a personal nature that was [what was] conveyed to me before [Drumm] came in”.

Q: “Well I would regard personal nature like I’m having problems at home or where I’m going on holiday. I take it we’re not talking about that?”

A: “Well it allowed for that possibility.”

Q: “It did, did it?”

A: “Yes it did because I had no idea what kind of an issue a chief executive of a financial institution might come and raise with me .”

Q: “Well, could it have something to do with finance – rather than trouble at home ?”

A: “Oh, it could be to do with anything, but I got the impression that – from Mr Drumm – that this was very much an informal chat he wanted to have with me .”

Also in his evidence on Thursday, March 13th, last, he said Drumm expressed concern at that meeting about rumours “about possible holding of CFD positions against shares in the bank . . . That Mr Quinn may have held up to 10 per cent of the shares in the bank by way of CFDs”.


He said Drumm was “worried that perhaps the CFD holdings by Mr Quinn was even bigger than that but he had no way of finding out and he wanted to see what information, if any, that the authority had or was there any way we could find out”. He insisted Drumm did not inform him that Quinn’s CFDs position amounted to 24 per cent.

Neary had a meeting with Quinn subsequently, in January 2008. He was asked:

Q: “Did you ask him [about his CFD position in Anglo] ?”

A: “Well I didn’t – I didn’t ask him straight up.”

Q: “Yes?”

A: “I came about it in a way that there’s talk you may have some CFD positions, and he responded that he had CFD positions in Ryanair and in Anglo but they weren’t very large and he didn’t intend to hold them . . .

Mr Quinn is entitled to, as a private citizen, to have all the investments he wanted to have and I respect that and I didn’t feel that it would be fair or appropriate for me to tackle a person about his own personal investment portfolio.”

Neary also gave evidence about his office’s supervision of how Anglo was dealing with the crisis caused by Quinn’s CFDs, a crisis that he acknowledged in his evidence was a threat to the entire financial system.

No records

He was asked by defence senior counsel Brendan Grehan if he had kept any records of information he was receiving from the second-in-command in his office, Con Horan ( then prudential director at the regulator’s office.

He replied: “No, I did not”.

Q: “Not even as much as a diary note?”

A: “No, I did not .”

Q: “A memo?”

A: “No memo, no record whatsoever.”

Q: “Something for the file?”

A: “No record whatsoever. I believed Mr Horan would give details of what was going on for the file and would maintain the records .”

Q: “Well the strange thing , maybe just a coincidence, is that Mr Horan, it would appear, didn’t make any record or doesn’t have any record, save for a note he prepared . . . in advance of the [regulatory ] authority meeting of 23rd of July . He thinks he prepared it perhaps a day or so before that.”

A: “Okay.”

Q: “So he doesn’t have any records and you don’t have any records either?”

A: “No, I don’t have.”

© 2014

Once again the Financial Regulator fails to regulate

Once again politicians are astonished and shocked that the Financial Regulator has failed to regulate (Irish Independent).

Once again the Financial Regulator will face questioning from the shocked and astonished politicians.

Once again the Financial Regulator will fill them with bullshit and by extension tell the people of Ireland to go take a hike.

Once again the absolute refusal of the Financial Regulator to regulate will facilitate the rampant criminal activity within the financial sector.

Once again the people of Ireland will pay the extremely high cost of living in a banana republic.

Different types of white-collar crime

Business manager with Bank of Ireland, William Freeland, has been jailed for four and a half years for stealing €3 million from the bank.

Between 2004 and 2009 Freeland set up fake accounts through which he stole the money. He would then open up more accounts to repay the loans taken from the previous accounts.

We can tell from this that Irish authorities do operate some sort of justice system for dealing with white-collar crime, which raises the following questions.

Why are those at Custom House Capital, who defrauded their clients of approximately €66 million in a similar type ponzi scheme, and at around the same time, still walking around as free citizens?

Why is it that the Irish Justice system can make the likes of Mr. Freeland accountable but are, apparently, completely incapable of bringing those bankers who destroyed the economy to justice?

Ireland's banana republic reputation spreads to Australia

Ireland’s banana republic reputation, when it comes to financial regulation, has spread to Australia.

It was 2007 when The New York Times dubbed Dublin the wild west of European finance.

This was the opening line by Emma Alberici, European correspondent for the Australian current affairs programme AM (Read and listen to Alberici’s report here).

Alberici was reporting on the latest failure of Ireland’s so called Financial Regulator to enforce the law.

Jonathan Sugarman was the head of risk management at the Dublin office of Italy’s UniCredit bank which runs a $50 billion operation in Ireland.

Sugarman was forced to resign after his chief executive consistently asked him to break the law.

Clearly, Sugarman’s boss was confident that he operated in a jurisdiction where financial law enforcement does not exist.

The Central Bank told the Australian broadcaster that it was still examining the allegations first brought to it by Sugarman four years ago.

Here’s what Sugarman had to say:

I left the bank’s offices, I walked down to the regulator’s office, I wasn’t going to leave it to anyone to deliver it but myself, and nothing happens.

That is like walking in to a police station with a knife with blood on it and saying I’ve just killed someone and you expect the police to say well where’s the body? Where’s the person? What have you done? And they just say, fine, just don’t do it again.

And that left me dumbfounded.

The bottom line is that the Irish Financial Regulator does not actually regulate, it does not enforce the law.

For many years now it has, effectively, operated a policy of telling white collar criminals to pay back any money robbed and not to do it again.

This irresponsible attitude has resulted in massive hardship and loss for countless thousands of Irish citizens.

The policy has also played a major role in the loss of Ireland’s financial sovereignty and the impoverishment of generations of Irish citizens to come.

Copy to:
Financial Regulator

Dail question on CHC scandal

My local representative, Fine Gael TD David Stanton, has replied to my request for a Dail question on the CHC scandal.

Dear Anthony,

Thank you for your email below. Just to let you know I tabled the below Dail question to the Minister for Finance today, so should have a response next Wednesday evening. I will pass it on to you as soon as I receive it.

Best regards

David Stanton TD

Written Question from David Stanton TD

To ask the Minister for Finance if he has received a report from the Financial Regulator in 2009 regarding an investigation into a company (details supplied); if it is intended to publish same and will he make a statement on the matter.

(Details: Customs House Capital)

(See below for my letter to deputy Stanton).

6th December 2011

Dear Mr. Stanton,

In early 2009, after receiving information from an unknown source, the Financial Regulator carried out an investigation into a wealth management company called Customs House Capital (CHC).

Apart from some supervisory and organisational issues the Financial Regulator found no significant problems with the company. The Financial Regulator adopted the following strategy – I quote.

Following the identification of these supervisory concerns, related to compliance and organisational issues, the strategy was to encourage CHC to identify and engage with potential buyers for the firm, which would be the best outcome to protect client investments and funds.

CHC took up this advice and sold its non-property assets to a company called Appian Asset Management.

Within a very short time Appian Asset Management discovered that CHC had been engaged in major fraud and immediately informed the Financial Regulator.

In 2010 the Financial Regulator carried out yet another investigation into CHC and found that major fraud had indeed been going on within the company.

Full details of the 2010 investigation are available to the public on the Financial Regulator’s website.

I requested details of the (alleged) 2009 investigation and was informed that this report was not available to the general public under secrecy laws. (Section 33AK of the Central Bank Act, 1942 (as amended).

The conduct and conclusions of the 2009 report are absolutely crucial in determining whether the Financial Regulator is, as claimed by this government and its predecessor, truly reformed and fit for purpose.

I request that you ask the following questions in Dail Eireann.

Why is the 2010 report legally available while the 2009 report on the same company, on the same matter, is deemed to be a state secret?

Why did the (alleged) 2009 investigation by the Financial Regulator fail to detect the major fraud that was going on right under the investigator’s noses?

Has the Financial Regulator taken any action to determine why its staff failed to detect what a company (which was not conducting an investigation) detected almost immediately on examining the books of CHC?

Why has there been no arrests arising from this matter? It is a verifiable fact that similar cases, in functional jurisdictions, quickly resulted in arrests, charges and prosecutions.

The following is a quote on the matter from High Court Judge Mr. Justice Hogan delivered on 28th October 2011.

In fact, the report describes a long litany of general misfeasance and wrong-doing, ranging from the systematic deliberate misuse of funds, gross impropriety, corporate misfeasance and false accounting to trading in a fraudulent manner.

Yours etc.

Anthony Sheridan

This request has also been forwarded to a representative of every political party.

Copy to:
Financial Regulator

Financial Regulation: Secrecy and obfuscation still the weapons of choice

The Custom House Capital (CHC) false accounting and fraudulent trading scandal is a very serious matter but, unfortunately, not a rare event in Ireland.

What should be of much greater concern to the people of Ireland is how this scandal has exposed the lie that financial regulation has been reformed and is now fit for purpose.

Soviet style secrecy and obfuscation are still the principal weapons employed by the Financial Regulator to prevent even the most basic information concerning its activities being made public.

The Financial Regulator claims it carried out an investigation into CHC in 2009 and found nothing more than some supervisory, compliance and organisational issues.

It was only when an outside agent became involved, in this case a company that had bought a section of CHCs business, that the fraud was uncovered.

The failure of the Financial Regulator to detect major fraud within a company that it was, allegedly, investigating raises some very serious questions.

In my opinion there are four possible reasons for this failure in regulation.

1. There was no investigation in the first place and the Regulator is now lying to cover up its failure.

2. There was an old style, pre financial catastrophe investigation. This would involve much drinking of coffee, hours of friendly chat with an occasional glance at some minor aspect of the business under investigation and the compilation of a report that found everything was just hunky dory.

3. Financial Regulator staff are so incompetent that they failed to uncover what Appian Asset Management immediately uncovered on taking over CHCs books.

4. There was a serious investigation and serious fraud was discovered but a cover-up strategy was adopted by the Financial Regulator.

This last possibility is most likely to be the truth.

Irish citizens know, to their great cost, that it is quite common for so called regulators to cover up fraud and criminality within the financial sector.

The DIRT and Ansbacher frauds are just two of the more serious examples of this strategy.

The crucial point arising from this particular scandal is not just that white collar crime is still tolerated by state authorities but that the same old strategies of secrecy and obfuscation are being employed to, effectively, protect the guilty.

Copy to:
Financial Regulator