The Anglo Irish Bank bosses, who were secretly taped on the phone, have categorically denied that they deliberately misled the government and regulators about the financial health of the group, prior to the huge bailout that brought Ireland's economy to its knees.
In two lengthy statements to the media, the now defunct AIB's head of capital markets John Bowe and director of retail banking Peter Fitzgerald, said they regretted the tone of the calls but that they categorically deny allegations of providing misleading information.
Statement from John Bowe
I categorically deny the allegation that I, at any time, misled the Central Bank or was aware of any strategy to do so. There were extensive discussions with the Central Bank particularly in or around the time period of September 2008. The phone call on 18 September 2008 was three days after Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy, and therefore took place during a period of severe and unprecedented market dislocation.
To the best of my recollection the discussions with the Central Bank at that time were focussed on obtaining funding for Anglo Irish Bank to enable the bank continue on an interim basis pending a more stable market environment, when the Bank would be able to re-establish other funding sources and repay the emergency funding in time. In effect, what Anglo was seeking was a form of secured bridging finance. It was envisaged that the relevant period of time would be a number of months before Anglo would be able to access sufficient alternate funding, possibly via the ECB.
It is my belief that the Central Bank was aware that this was the nature of the discussions that were taking place. All participants in the discussions in September 2008 were fully aware that we were dealing with extreme uncertainty in the markets. The Central Bank was receiving, at that time, detailed data from the Bank on a daily basis in addition to short term cashflow projections. The Central Bank was also at that time conducting detailed and extensive due diligence on Anglo's loan book through professional advisers engaged on their behalf.
The matters discussed in the telephone calls that were broadcast and published this morning, relate to an envisaged Emergency Liquidity transaction that did not take place, and to the best of my recollection there was no further substantive discussion on this issue in the week leading up to the bank guarantee on 30 September 2008.
In hindsight, I deeply regret that the language and tone I used in these internal bilateral telephone calls was both imprudent and inappropriate. I also wish to highlight that I was not a member of the executive management board of Anglo Irish Bank in 2008, and therefore I was not a decision maker in relation to either the Bank's requirement for funding or negotiations with the Central Bank. Further, my statements were not based upon any awareness whatsoever of a strategy to mislead the Central Bank.
Statement from Peter Fitzgerald
Yesterday and earlier today I was contacted in relation to a telephone call that I understand I received close to five years ago in September 2008.
Having not seen a copy of the transcript of the telephone call nor heard a recording of the telephone call, I am told that it involved a briefing on the various funding options, hypothetical or otherwise, being considered by Anglo Irish Bank in the crisis of September 2008. I believe that at that time the Central Bank had requested forecasted liquidity numbers from the Bank in the context of an ongoing dialogue that was taking place at senior levels within both organisations.
I was not a member of the executive management board of Anglo Irish Bank in 2008 and therefore was not involved in the discussions that were conducted by senior executive management of Anglo Irish Bank with the authorities in 2008 in relation to the funding position of Anglo Irish Bank.
For the avoidance of doubt, I am not nor have I ever been aware of a strategy or intention on the part of Anglo Irish Bank to mislead the authorities in relation to the forecasted funding position of Anglo Irish Bank.