‘Anglo did not come up on golf course’

Former Anglo director Fintan Drury revealed some of his friends find it "lacking in credibility" the bank’s situation was not discussed with then taoiseach Brian Cowen at a golf outing.

‘Anglo did not come up on golf course’

Political Correspondent

However, Mr Drury insisted it was true that Anglo’s problems never came up during the event at Druids Glen in July 2008, which involved other people connected to the bank.

Giving evidence to the Oireachtas banking probe into the financial crash, Mr Drury said a private meeting had taken place between Mr Cowen and the other banking figures present.

Mr Cowen’s testimony to the probe stated that everything was done in “public view” at Druids Glen.

At the private meeting with Mr Cowen were Mr Drury; Seán FitzPatrick; former Anglo director and then Smurfit Kappa chief executive Gary McGann; and economist Alan Gray, who was a director of the Central Bank.

Mr Drury, Mr Cowen, and Mr FitzPatrick then played golf and had dinner. The situation at Anglo was never mentioned once that day, Mr Drury said.

“I have friends who find it lacking in credibility,” Mr Drury told the committee as he insisted his version of events was correct.

Mr Drury said Mr Cowen “did not arrive with any documents and didn’t leave with any documents”.

He said the meeting had been arranged so the then taosieach could meet a group of “smart” people to discuss economic issues.

The ex-non executive director of Anglo said he had been friends with Mr Cowen since college and this gave him “privileged access” if he had wanted to lobby him as finance minister or later as taoiseach, he said he could have ”walked into his office and closed the door” rather than do so on a golf outing.

Mr Drury also said an event attended by the then finance minister Mr Cowen at Anglo’s HQ in April 2008 was “completely unremarkable” and there was no discussion about banking.

This mirror’s Mr Cowen’s account of the dinner, but runs contrary to written evidence presented to the inquiry by former Anglo chief David Drumm which stated banking issues were discussed.

Mr Drury said the former taoiseach “did not arrive with any documents and didn’t leave with any documents”.

Mr Drury also insisted there had been “absolutely” no discussion with Mr Cowen on the Government’s blanket bank guarantee in the lead-up to its inception in September 2008.

The former director said he and Mr Cowen had met “very irregularly” in the past 12 months as they did not want people to jump to conclusions about them being together, such as discussing evidence to the banking probe.

“Partly I regret that because the truth is that we live in a very small country and in an environment where if I met Brian Cowen for a pint or we went to a match together there’s a percentage of people who would think we were up to no good. It has constrained the friendship.

Mr Drury insisted he did not act a conduit between Anglo and Mr Cowen.

However he did contact the then finance minister in March 2008 on Mr FitzPatrick’s behalf; and Mr Cowen then telephoned Mr Fitzpatrick within 90 minutes and told him he would pass on concerns regarding the situation at Anglo to the governor of the Central Bank.

Mr Drury insisted there was “absolutely” no conflict of interest in him conveying the request for a telephone call with the finance minister from Mr FitzPatrick, nor in him helping arrange the golf outing, or the dinner at Anglo HQ. There was a culture of “disinterest” in making connections with politicians at Anglo, Mr Drury told the probe.

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