Thursday, February 12, 2009

Lenihan must be fired

No decision taken by the Government was affected in any way by the fact that I did not read page 129 of the report, because my officials read page 129 of the report.
That was the Minister's lame attempt to dismiss the fact that he didn't read the full report and, thus, missed the fact that there was some (at best) fairly questionable dealings between Anglo-Irish Bank and Irish Life & Permanent last September.

In case you missed it, Anglo Irish loaned €7bn to IL&P who then turned around and placed it back with Anglo-Irish through one of IL&P's non-banking subsidiaries. This all happened as September was winding down, which happens to be when Anglo-Irish's reporting year winds down too. How would this move make any real difference? Well, thanks to the fact that IL&P used a non-banking subsidiary Anglo could book the money as a customer deposit rather than a loan from another bank. And that matters because "[c]ustomer deposits are regarded as a more secure source of funding than deposits from other banks."

Get it? The money goes on a circular journey from Anglo to IL&P and back again, but along the way it acquires a character that allows Anglo to appear a better bet for investors than it was.

Now, back to the Minister. He says that this information in the report he received in October (but didn't read) wouldn't have affected how the government acted. Well, okay, but from October the Irish government should have been aware that Anglo-Irish and IL&P had connived to potentially defraud investors out of their money. But such information wouldn't have affected how the government acted. If I had bought shares in Anglo between mid-October and January 15 when the bank was nationalized I'd be looking to sue the government for withholding such information.

If they withheld such information, but of course they didn't withhold it because the Minister never absorbed it in the first place. Regardless the message to any potential overseas investor is that you don't matter, our laws don't really protect you.

Who in their right mind would invest in Ireland again? Who? Why can't the Taoiseach see this? I've heard mention of the word 'stability' and how we can't afford instability in this crisis. Well telling the world that Ireland is a rigged game is not the sort of stability we can afford. The Taoiseach needs to fire Lenihan and now. Before the day is out.