Did Shane Ross forget?

Last night I was trawling newspaper archives for information on the four Anglo names. I have already posted on Seamus Ross and Jerry Conlan. While searching for information on Gerry Gannon I came across this gem from the Sunday Independent from April 2008.

A GROUP of clients of Anglo Irish Banks, including big builders and entrepreneurs, plan to set up a large investment fund to buy shares in the troubled bank.

A meeting took place in a Dublin hotel recently in which it was decided to buy shares worth up to €500m. Gerry Gannon of Gannon Homes and Sean Quinn are thought to have been targeted to join the consortium. Quinn is already a large shareholder.

Sources close to the group suggest that each member will be asked to put in several million euro. When the fund reaches €500m, it will be leveraged up with borrowings to buy further Anglo shares.

Supporters of Anglo are convinced that there are still scores of big investors who will be forced to buy back stock as a result of short selling.

Senator Ross continues:

Some of the consortium are incensed by the recent short selling of Anglo shares by stockbrokers in Dublin and London and are determined to punish the offending brokers.

Last night one member told the Sunday Independent: “We are going to teach the brokers and hedge funds that damaged the bank a salutary lesson. It is our bank, it has an entrepreneurial culture. They will come out of this with their fingers burned.”

Shares in Anglo have tanked in recent weeks, due largely to short selling. They plunged from a 12-month high of €17.53 to below €7 at one point.

The Financial Regulator has launched an investigation into dealings in the stock, especially around the St Patrick’s Day holiday when the shares were assaulted by sellers.

Anglo has bankrolled some of the State’s most successful entrepreneurs, from developer Bernard McNamara to Richard Nesbitt’s Arnotts and Mick Bailey of Bovale.

So Senator Ross knows at least one of the Anglo 10? And he knew about it two months before the operation took place? Would Mr Ross like to tell us more about the details, and the name of the person who spoke to him?

The Property Pin discussed it here at the time.

Update: The plot just got a little thicker. It was pointed out on a forum that Cowen’s infamous private dinner with Anglo Irish executives occurred around the same time. In fact, Cowen met with Anglo executives on Thursday April 24. Ross’s article was published on Sunday April 27.

Was Cowen told anything about this? Were the two meetings in fact the same meeting? Was Cowen made aware of discussions between Anglo investors?

From the article last week reporting the meeting:

But as the Taoiseach came under renewed pressure to name the ‘golden circle’ fresh details emerged of his cosy relationship with the beleaguered bank’s top brass.

Mr Cowen dined privately with Anglo Irish Bank directors at a Dublin hotel just weeks after he had been warned of a dangerous position with the bank’s shares that threatened the entire Irish financial system.

Mr Cowen was Finance Minister at the time and was told only weeks before about problems at the bank with the shareholding of multi-millionaire businessman, Sean Quinn.

He met the Anglo bankers on the night of April 24 last when he was already Taoiseach-in-waiting and when his close friend, Fintan Drury, was a member of Anglo’s board, chairing its risks and compliance committee.

The occasion was not an official public engagement, and no briefing note or formal speech was prepared by officials for the then Finance Minister.

A government spokesman insisted last night: “Private meetings are common between finance ministers and banks across the board.”

27 thoughts on “Did Shane Ross forget?”

  1. This should tell us which role Ross considers his primary occupation.

    If he’s a journalist he has a (debatable) defence in saying he’s keeping schtump to protect sources, obviously the source said it to him off the record… although it could be said that releasing the name is in the public interest. Actually… scratch that, why IS he keeping quiet? Very odd.

    Either way, very interesting, nice digging.

  2. I know some of the people who were allegedly associated with this notion; however, that does not lead me to infer that they are also members of the “Golden Circle.” However, having said that, if the names that I am hearing as regards the other six members of the Golden Team are true, then Shane Ross will not be the only senior journalist left with a few questions to answer. Anglo’s tentacles run deep….

  3. I had thought there was some political talk about organising some outside investors for banks but I think I was thinking of the big 2 and some paper suggesting that Bertie be the front man for a visit to the middle east, it must be been in September and so not this case.

  4. Clearly Ross’s information at the time was sketchy. He thought Quinn was taking part in the digout rather than selling his holdings.
    It’s also worth noting that the Sindo took a kicking for relegating their FAS exclusive to the business pages.
    Is it not possible that Ross was forced to hand over the Maple Ten story to the newsdesk?

  5. That was all over the news last year, the deal with Quinn anyway. It was basically a private investment club which happened to be a bank.

  6. The behavior of the board of ILP is mysterious. Either they are all idiots or they were given the green light from the Dept and Fin and the Fin Regulator to engage in the accounting fraud with Anglo (the end of year window dressing “deposit”). I don’t think they are idiots. So, now you have the Fin Regulator investigating something they probably sanctioned last Sept. Unbelievable.

  7. ross is after the regulator for the sake of it not the TSEACH, you don’t actually think ross wants more regulation?

  8. Gavin,

    This alleged grouping of those determined to punish the short sellers by buying up Anglo shares was a ploy, manufactured by the bank in an attempt to boost its shares in the eyes of the public.

    It should not be confused with the so-called ‘golden circle’ of ten individuals to whom the bank allegedly gave money later in the year to ‘purchase’ Anglo shares.

  9. Many of them might be the same people Woodsey – investors/borrowers in Anglo had a vested interest in propping up the share price.

  10. Gavin,

    Absolutely, couldn’t agree more!

    But all of these sordid episodes (and there will be many more!) serve only to take the eye off our sliding economy and the main players who were and are still being paid second fortunes to apparently slide it further.

    Need to stay focussed! I’m not waving, I’m drowning!

  11. I think the episodes provide context – you are right though – and I will come back to other stuff as time goes on.

  12. This story appears to have died. Or was buried. Sure we’re a great little country and we can’t be ragging on the people who “built” the Celtic Tiger.
    Will we ever find out the full story I wonder?

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