Taoiseach refuses to rule out €30bn Anglo bill

THE full cost of bailing out Anglo Irish Bank is expected to rise further after the Taoiseach refused to rule out the possibility of it passing the €30 billion mark.

Brian Cowen said “horrendous mistakes” were made in the banking system and that he has taken his “full measure” of responsibility for his role as former finance minister.

He said an updated estimate of what Anglo’s rescue will cost the taxpayer will be provided by the Financial Regulator at the start of next month to give some certainty to international markets.

“This is the most distressed financial institution there is,” he said.

The Government had previously estimated the bailout would cost €24bn but rating agency Standard & Poor’s recently estimated it would be no less than €35bn.

Mr Cowen told RTÉ radio yesterday that “speculation about numbers” has not helped market confidence.

But he refused repeatedly to say the ultimate cost would be below €30bn.

“It’s an evolving situation,” he said. “We intend to finalise the situation as regards the direction of Anglo Irish Bank in the coming weeks,” he said. “I believe it is manageable.”

It would be difficult to come up with an exact figure of the bailout but the Regulator will give “the necessary ballpark” that the markets want to see, he said.

Mr Cowen would not indicate how long a possible wind-down of the bank would take but said it will be “over a long period of time”. The Taoiseach said he has taken his “full measure” of responsibility for his actions in relation to the banking crisis.

He said there had been “liquidity issues for the whole banking system right throughout 2008” but that “there was no suggestion that what we ended up with was around the corner”.

He said he had told the Dáil that the banks were well capitalised “based on information provided to us by the regulatory authorities both internationally and domestically”.

He said: “The regulatory system in our country and in the IMF and elsewhere were not suggesting we had an under-capitalisation problem. And if there was such a proposal that we did have a problem on the capitalisation side obviously it would have been incumbent upon us to do something about it.”

He was speaking following reports that Irish Nationwide Building Society could be forced to close because the European Commission is planning to veto its proposal to reinvent itself as a mortgage and savings provider.

The state-owned building society, which got a €2.7bn capital injection earlier this year, is expected to wind-down after it transfers €8bn of loans to NAMA.


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