'His practice was to refinance those loans' - Alan Dukes recalls 2008 meeting with Sean FitzPatrick

Former Anglo Irish Bank CEO and chairman Sean FitzPatrick has died aged 73
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

18.03 9 Nov 2021

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'His practice was to refinance...

'His practice was to refinance those loans' - Alan Dukes recalls 2008 meeting with Sean FitzPatrick

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

18.03 9 Nov 2021

Share this article

Ex-IBRC chairman Alan Dukes says he remembers an early meeting with former Anglo Irish Bank CEO Sean FitzPatrick, at which he questioned loan figures.

He was speaking as Mr FitzPatrick has died aged 73. He passed away on Monday from cardiac arrest.

Mr FitzPatrick was chief executive of Anglo Irish Bank between the mid-1980s and 2005, and was chairman until he resigned in December 2008.


The bank collapsed during the bank crisis of 2008, and was ultimately nationalised in January 2009.

It eventually became the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC), which is still being wound down to this day.

Mr FitzPatrick went on trial in 2014 and again in 2016 on charges of financial irregularities, but was acquitted on both occasions.

In 2017, he was acquitted of all charges following the longest criminal trial in the history of the State.

Mr Dukes, who is also a former Minister for Finance, told The Hard Shoulder he remembers an initial meeting

"I joined the board formally in December of 2008, having been appointed by Brian Lenihan sometime before that.

"As part of the induction process... we had a discussion with the then-chairman Sean FitzPatrick and a senior independent director about issues to be dealt with in the forthcoming annual report of the bank.

"And one of the issues concerned the amount outstanding in loans to directors.

"The issue was that there was a big increase in that year, at the end of the year, over the amounts that had been outstanding the previous year.

"And I asked why that had happened".

'A big increase in loans'

Mr Dukes says Mr FitzPatrick then produced a document, showing a majority of loans made out to him.

"Sean FitzPatrick, in fact, produced a list of the outstanding loans to the directors at the two accounting dates.

"And there was a big increase between the two, most of it in loans to him.

"When I asked how this had happened, he said that it had been his practice to refinance those loans with other institutions coming up to the end of the year - and then to go back to Anglo with them.

"I said to him that it seemed to me that that was just a means of getting the loans off the books at a particular time.

"He insisted they were arms-length loans, which I have no doubt they probably were.

"But I said that, as I say, it seemed to me to be a device to get them off the books at the relevant time".

Mr Dukes says the meeting then ended, and Mr FitzPatrick announced his resignation later that evening.

"I would imagine that that in fact was a big part of the reason that he resigned at that time".

But Mr Dukes says Anglo was not the only bank in trouble.

"All the banks were seriously overstretched at that time and Anglo, in particular, because - as it emerged - Anglo was far more reliant on business related to property values than the other banks were.

"But in all of the banks at that time - late 2008 - the main immediate concern was liquidity and with the level of deposits.

"The banks were very worried about their liquidity position at that point, and that was the key focus in those early days."

Mr Dukes says while information should have been acted on by others, regulation was also at fault.

"There was certainly a feeling of desperation because... liquidity and deposits were the main concern.

"But we knew there was more coming down the tracks.

"Yes there was a great deal of anger generally at the time - I was the butt of some of it myself.

"We have a tendency in this country to blame the fire brigade for the fire.

"But I think the light regulation thing was carried too far here.

"By the time the crash happened, Anglo had actually busted through every potential limit that any banker should observe.

"And all of that information was actually available to the Central Bank, but either hadn't been understood - or if it was understood it hadn't been acted on".

'His practice was to refinance those loans' - Alan Dukes recalls 2008 meeting with Sean FitzPatrick

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Main image: Alan Dukes is seen outside Leinster House, Dublin in March 2011. Picture by: PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo / Julien Behal

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