Morgan Kelly

I can’t really add much to Mr Kelly’s excellent analysis. What it says to me is that the next 12 to 18 months are going to be among the most difficult, if not the most difficult, time this country has faced. I encourage everyone to read the entire document.

I will emphasise his conclusion:

Despite having pushed the Irish state close to, and quite possibly beyond, the limits ofits fiscal capacity with the NAMA scheme, the Irish banks remain as zombies whose only priority is to reduce their debt, and who face complete destruction from mortgage losses. The issue therefore is not whether the Irish bank bailout will restore the Irish banks sothat they can function as independent commercial entities: it cannot. Rather it is whether the Irish government’s commitments to bank bond holders when added to its existing spend-ing commitments, will overwhelm the fiscal capacity of the Irish state, forcing outside entities such as the IMF and EU to intervene and impose a resolution on the Irish banking system.

The Irish Credit Bubble (UCD)

[cross posted to thestory.ie]

Posted in Irish Politics, NAMA | 3 Comments

The Regulator

I don’t want this post to seem like an “I told you so” post. But it might appear that way. I started irishcorruption.com/publicinquiry.eu back in 2005. One of the biggest issues myself and my uncle Anthony covered, and still cover on that blog, is the lack of regulation of the banks. And when the country was in a credit boom, and nobody, or at least very few, were asking questions about regulation of the banks, myself, and to a much deeper degree Anthony where highlighting this issue ad nauseum. Almost all of these posts were also copied to the office of the Financial Regulator.

August 22, 2005 Toothless IFSRA
August 25, 2005 Allied Irish Banks investigates itself
September 28, 2005 Banana Republic
October 10, 2005 Irish/Italian accountability
November 15, 2005 The sheriff is not for the good guys
December 13, 2005 Irish (Banks) Mafia
December 23, 2005 Legal actions, dodgy dealings and resignations
January 9, 2006 The (Irish financial) Wild West Show
March 24, 2006 Still waiting for law enforcement
March 26, 2006 Former AIB executives settle with Revenue for €323,313
June 7, 2006 Ireland – The Wild West of European finance

August 1, 2006 Irish Financial Regulator – Bizarre and toothless
August 2, 2006 Rampant corruption – rampant profits
September 28, 2006 A corrupt state
October 13, 2006 Bank robbers and bank robbers
December 12, 2006 Failing to make connections
December 14, 2006 Maintaining the illusion
January 23, 2007 State contempt for consumers
March 20, 2007 Irish Financial Regulator – Betraying the consumer
April 4, 2007 The Financial Regulator, banks and credit unions
April 25, 2007 Insider watchdog
May 3, 2007 It’s all in the mind
June 17, 2007 AIB: Still ripping off customers with impunity
June 13, 2007 Man of steel turns to straw
August 23, 2007 A corrupt and secretive financial market
August 21, 2007 Dublin – A conduit for dodgy deals?
August 27, 2007 Dublin operation – A sloppily-run pig sty

And that’s just the first two years of blog posts. Never let anyone tell you that no one could have seen what was coming.

Posted in Corruption, Irish Politics | 2 Comments

More NAMA stuff

Two good articles by IT journalists over the weekend.

First up, Simon Carswell, via FoI:

THE INTERNATIONAL Monetary Fund (IMF) told the Government that the definition of “long-term economic value” on bank loans in the draft Nama Bill was “masterful” as it was “sufficiently specific” and “sufficiently vague” to allow “appropriate flexibility”.

Steven Seelig, an adviser at the IMF, made the comments in an e-mailed response to a request by the Department of Finance for his opinion on the draft National Asset Management Agency Bill published last August.

“It is both sufficiently specific and sufficiently vague to allow appropriate flexibility. I hope you can retain this language,” said Mr Seelig, an expert on “bad banks”, in a private e-mail to department officials sent on August 25th.

The e-mail was among records released to The Irish Times under the Freedom of Information Act relating to representations made to the department on Nama.


And Laura Slattery, also via FoI
:

THE NATIONAL Asset Management Agency (Nama) should be required to register with the Land Registry or the Registry of Deeds, Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan has been advised.

In correspondence released to The Irish Times under the Freedom of Information Act, the Law Society of Ireland and the Property Registration Authority both expressed concern about the exemption for Nama assets to register in the Land Registry or the Registry of Deeds.

The society wrote to Mr Lenihan in September to say “normal conveyancing practice” should not be disrupted by Nama and that the agency should be required to register its interest in a land bank or property title.

The Property Registration Authority said the exemption for Nama assets to register “would appear to run counter to public policy and the necessity of transparency and reliability in land registers”.

Registration on a State register “provides clarity and certainty”, John Coleman, chairman of the Property Registration Authority, wrote to the Department of Finance. Other letters written to Mr Lenihan expressing concerns about the workings of Nama included a note from Bernard Allen TD, chairman of the Committee of Public Accounts.

I will be seeking copies of these FoI in my own future FoIs.

Posted in Irish Politics, NAMA | 2 Comments

Fuck you Deputy Stagg

Posted in Irish Politics | 12 Comments

NAMA and risk reports

[Crossposted to thestory.ie]

I will post the document first and tell the story below, it’s worth a look. The information contained in this FOI, is I believe, valuable.

Cost-benefit analyses, impact reports or preparatory reports for NAMA

Why is this information valuable? It contains a timeline of what companies were involved in consulting the Government on the formation of NAMA, and gives us insight into the process. It also contains previously unknown titles, such as HSBC’s “Project Neo”. This is likely relates to the rumoured formation of a “New Anglo Irish Bank” in 2010. And it gives us an idea as to the level of involvement of Merrill, Arthur Cox, Rotschilds, PwC and HSBC.

The background:

A little bit of a saga ended today, finally. It is worth noting the dates involved in this request.

On August 17 I sought the following information from the Department of Finance:

1) A list of all cost-benefit analyses, impact reports or preparatory reports that have been carried out by the Department in relation to the proposed National Asset Management Agency (NAMA). Please can you list the title of the document, its date, and by whom it was written.

2) A list of all cost-benefit analyses, impact reports, or preparatory reports that have been carried out by people or companies working on behalf of, or at the request of the Department, in relation to the proposed National Asset Management Agency (NAMA). Please can you list the title of the document, its date, and by whom it was written.

I received my acknowledgment as standard, which was followed up with an email. The email said it was unlikely my request would be successful but if I wanted, I could be given information outside of my request. I went along with this and it resulted in this blog post on September 30. That’s in and around the 20 day limit under the Act.

But I didn’t feel the information provided was sufficient, and I always wanted information should my request be refused. So I said I still wanted to proceed with my original request. The Department then took the date of my re-request as the initial date, thus giving them another 20 working days. This brought the result of the request into early November, despite an initial request in August.

Numerous emails were sent, and replied to. The civil servants involved were “busy” with NAMA and it was taking longer than normal to reply to my request. Last week I had enough, and wrote an email seeking an internal review as my request was now a deemed refusal since the 20 day limit had expired. Today, December 8, nearly four months later, I got the reply.

Posted in Irish Politics, NAMA | 1 Comment

Ursula Halligan interviews Ahern

I didn’t get all of them, but here are most of the questions she asked:

Why is drumcondra so important to you?
Con Ahern, he’s a fascinating character..?
What is a flying column?
How did he keep order in his house?
He would give you the odd thump?
Were you afraid of him?
You liked him?
Who do you think you were most like, your mum or your dad?
She died in the middle of the good friday negotiations?
In the meantime you did slip into the hospital…?
What impact did it have?
How would the other boys have seen you? they called you a culchie?
So you were a fighter? Were you in alot of scrapes? Would you use your fists?
Did anyone ever get the better of you?
Do you need as a leader to be ruthless to succeed?

There’s a great piece in your book were you say you could be tough if you had to be…
What did you mean by that? Every trick in the book?
Was Haughey ruthless?
You liked him?
DId you see him doing anything that was wrong?
Why did you take it from him?
Was Albert tough?
You were disappointed at how Lenihan supported you in the end?
What were they saying?
What did they say to you?

There’s a loyalty in Miriam, I didnt deserve it?
You did find love again with Celia Larkin?
What was so special about Celia? Describe her, in your words.
What breaks your heart now about the absence of Celia in your life?
Why did it break up Bertie?
You ruled out getting married?
The Mahon tribunal… are you worried about that?
Would you be upset if they did come out with a finding like that?
You have a clean conscience on it…
You believe someone out there was trying to bury you…?
Who is the real Bertie Ahern?
Are you very self disciplined?
Was it worth it all?

Posted in Bertie Ahern | 3 Comments

Bertie and Dubai

Bertie + Dubai = economic implosion

I don’t think I can add anything to that.

Posted in Bertie Ahern | 5 Comments

Baker Tilly report

For those interested on what goes on at some State bodies that do not fall under FOI legislation, Mark has distilled the details of the Baker Tilly report in CIE (the Irish operator of railways), and posted the report itself. It details widespread fraud at the body, and is the first time the report has been made publicly available. As is policy now, I OCRd the document making it searchable and indexable.

I am back from Barcelona… and so many projects will hopefully come to fruition as a result of attending PDF Europe.

Posted in Blogging | 1 Comment

In Barcelona

Blogging has been very light recently as I’ve been busy with stuff over at thestory.ie, and now I’m in Barcelona for PDF Europe. Day 1 looks like a great lineup and I’m looking forward to meeting lots of interest people over the next couple of days.

And I didn’t bring my camera. D’oh.

Posted in Blogging | Comments Off

Ireland's note to the Commission

[Cross posted to thestory.ie]

I was interested in some FOI work that Deputy Joan Burton had been doing lately on Anglo Irish Bank, so I contacted her and asked for any documents or refusals she had received. She was kind enough to copy everything and post them down to me. I have now scanned and OCRd the documentation.

First up is Ireland’s notification to the European Commission surrounding the injection of €1.5bn of capital into the bank. It runs to over 50 pages and contains some curious stuff. Many of the handwritten notes are I believe by Deputy Burton herself, or her staff. But there are other curious oddities, some of which are highlighted.

Firstly the document appears to have been poorly redacted. There are strikethroughs throughout the document with notes afterwards such as “[Confidential – commercially sensitive][Department to confirm]”. What appears to have happened is that a draft of the document was released, rather than a redacted version. The draft contains the internal notes around what should or should not be redacted. One gem (and this is dated January 2008) is “Anglo Irish Bank is considered a fundamentally sound institution”. With a note beside saying it might be “commercially sensitive” to say so.

Not alone that, but further down it says (with a line through it)

The assessment by Merrill Lynch supports the position that Anglo Irish Bank is fundamentally sound.[Confidential – commercially sensitive][Department to confirm]

Another gem which was marked for redaction, marking points arguing in favour of capital injection:

The assessment that there was a low likelihood that Anglo Irish Bank would be successful in raising additional equity from existing shareholders and new private investors Confidential – commercially sensitive][Department to confirm]

Also this very interesting paragraph around future planning:

As noted above, on account of Anglo Irish Bank’s specific business model, which is specialised in commercial property lending and property development finance, not all of the elements of the agreed credit package will directly impact on Anglo Irish Bank, at least initially. However, given the envisaged future changes in the Bank’s business model and strategic direction under its restructuring plan, it is anticipated that in time further elements of the credit package will become applicable to Anglo Irish Bank accordingly [Confidential —commercially sensitive for Anglo Irish Bank] [Department to confirm]

Finally, there is this further reference to Anglo’s future:

On account of Anglo Irish Bank’s specific business model, which is specialised in commercial property lending and property development finance, not all of the elements of the agreed credit package will directly impact on Anglo Irish Bank, at least initially. However, given the requirement to prepare a restructuring plan within a six month period as part of the recapitalisation initiative, future changes in the business model and strategic direction of Anglo Irish Bank are likely to bring about a closer alignment between the lending activities of the Bank and the credit needs of the real economy. As a result it is anticipated that in-time further elements of the credit package will become applicable to Anglo Irish Bank accordingly. [Confidential – business secret] [Department to confirm].

Of course questions need to be asked. This document is dated January 8. The Government already had the PwC reports into Anglo and must have had some idea of the scale of the problems at the bank. Yet Merrill was still claiming Anglo was fundamentally sound just a week before the bank was nationalised. Not alone that, all references to the bank being fundamentally sound were marked for redaction.

There is one final section that sums up the entire sorry mess:

Anglo Irish Bank is a focused business bank with a private banking arm. The Bank provides business banking, treasury and wealth/management services. It is not a universal bank and its stated strategy is niche rather than broad market. Each of its customers deals directly with a dedicated relationship manager and a product specialist.

Yet in the same breath we are told the Anglo is of systemic importance. So which is it?

Ireland’s note to the Commission [PDF]

Posted in Anglo Irish, Irish Politics | 4 Comments