Anglo trial profile: Denis Casey - ‘Green jersey agenda’ used to justify deal

Denis Casey began his career in 1976 working for Allied Irish Finance Company Limited.

Anglo trial profile: Denis Casey - ‘Green jersey agenda’ used to justify deal

He joined Irish Life Assurance in 1980 as a trainee accountant and qualified as a certified accountant in 1982.

He worked in a variety of roles in Ireland and the UK for Irish Life Assurance, including earning his stripes doing weekly door to door collections of cash for modest life assurance premiums in working-class housing estates around the capital.

In 1998, he was promoted to the role of chief operating officer in Irish Life’s retail division. In 1999, following the merger of Irish Life and Irish Permanent, he was appointed chief executive of Irish Life Retail. In June 2005, he was appointed chief executive of Permanent TSB bank before taking on the role of ILP group chief executive in May 2007.

The timing was bad as the emergence of an extensive sub-prime mortgage problem in the US triggered a global financial meltdown which itself resulted in a stalling of the normal flow of lending between banks. Consequently by late 2007, ILP had begun to rely heavily on borrowings from the ECB to maintain liquidity.

In March 2008, Mr (Peter) Fitzpatrick met Con Horan, prudential director with the Central Bank, and received a dressing down over the extent of these borrowings, as revealed in the bank’s 2007 end of year results. Casey was travelling abroad at the time presenting the bank’s 2007 results.

When he returned, he met with Mr Hurley and financial regulator Pat Neary and the concept of the “green jersey agenda” — Irish banks supporting each one another during the global financial meltdown — was first raised.

The chief executive told detectives that he very much took on board the regulator’s admonition that Irish banks needed to “circle the wagons” and “don the green jersey”. This was the start of it all and Casey said that after this meeting, he briefed Peter Fitzpatrick on the agenda.

Mr Casey said he had no recollection of authorising the March “back to back” loans which saw Anglo place €1bn with ILP in return for an overnight placement of €750m in corporate deposits from Irish Life Assurance.

Peter Fitzpatrick told detectives his boss had approved the deal. Mr Fitzpatrick told gardaí: “He gave me his authority… to execute the transactions. It is a flight of fancy to suggest I was doing a solo run on this. I couldn’t have proceeded with this transaction without my chief executive’s approval”.

Mr Fitzpatrick said he understood that he had a clear instruction from Mr Casey to adopt the green jersey agenda, but said that his CEO would be “closely involved in any transaction”.

In any case, the help from ILP at Anglo’s half-year reporting date was reciprocated by Anglo over ILP’s half-year reporting date in June, when ILP sent over €3bn in loans to Anglo, and Anglo sent €3bn cash deposits to ILP.

In September 2008, dealers from Anglo contacted their counterparts with a view to setting up a similar deal to the March transaction. At the same time David Drumm contacted Casey and asked for a meeting.

During this meeting, Casey was taken by surprise at Mr Drumm’s proposal of a merger between the two banks.

Casey was unenthusiastic about the plan and days later it was formally rejected by ILP’s board. The following weekend a series of articles appeared in the Sunday newspapers suggesting that the merger with Anglo was the only option left for ILP and that without it, they would not survive the banking crisis.

Casey put the blame for this articles squarely with Anglo and was furious. In a follow up meeting with Mr Drumm and Séan FitzPatrick, he did nothing to hide his displeasure, and his demeanour was lampooned later by Mr Drumm saying, in recorded calls played during the trial, that Casey had “a fucking brick wall built in front of him,” and “kept saying very very stupid things”.

The merger proposal was again roundly rejected.

Casey admitted authorising the placement of billions of euro to Anglo in September 2008, but said he was in order to support a “pillar” financial institution in the Irish banking system, under the green jersey agenda,

“The September transactions would never have arisen or never have been contemplated by ILP but for our understanding of our obligations under the green jersey agenda mandated by the Central Bank and financial regulator,” he told gardaí.

Counsel Michael O’Higgins told the jury that his client had been duped by Anglo’s decision to account for the transactions on the balance sheet, while the State said it was inconceivable that a banker of his experience didn’t know that Anglo intended to do this.

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