Anglo trial hears former regulator did not know extent of Quinn stake

Tuesday 18 March 2014 21.58
Patrick Neary denied that he had practised the art of not being told difficult things
Patrick Neary denied that he had practised the art of not being told difficult things

The former Financial Regulator has said he did not know about the extent of Seán Quinn's stake in Anglo Irish Bank until March 2008.

This was despite several emails from the Quinn Group to the Regulator outlining the position in the previous month.

Patrick Neary was being cross-examined by defence lawyers in the trial of Anglo's former chairman, Seán FitzPatrick, and two former directors of the bank, Patrick Whelan and William McAteer.

The three men deny giving unlawful loans to 16 people to buy shares in the bank.

Mr Whelan also denies being involved in fraudulently altering seven loan facility letters.

Mr Neary has told the court Mr Quinn "dropped in" to see him in January 2008.  

He said he did not ask him about the extent of his interest in Anglo through Contracts for Difference as Mr Quinn was a private citizen and was entitled to have a portfolio of private investments.   

He said Mr Quinn told him he had small holdings in Anglo and Ryanair and intended to get rid of them. 

He said at another meeting in February, Mr Quinn told him he had "gone long in financials".  Mr Neary said he took this to mean he had got rid of his CFDs and had bought underlying shares. 

He said he believed Mr Quinn.

Mr Neary said he did not have much to say to Mr Quinn at the January meeting and said he did not take any notes.

There was no planned agenda and it was very much an informal conversation.

He said he did not recall what he had said to Mr Quinn.  He agreed he listened while Mr Quinn burbled on and said it was very much a one-sided conversation.

He said rumours about CFDs did not relate to Quinn Insurance, which he said was the Regulatory Authority's main concern.

Mr Neary insisted the first he knew of Mr Quinn's 28% stake in Anglo Irish Bank through CFDs was a meeting with Anglo officials on 21 March 2008.

A schedule of emails and correspondence was put to Mr Neary including a number of emails from Shane Morrison of the Quinn Group to various people in the Financial Regulator's office. 

These emails began on 26 February and outlined Mr Quinn's €2 billion exposure to Anglo shares through CFDs.

Mr Neary said he had never seen these emails and had been unaware of them.  He said he could only tell the truth to the court. 

He said he could not explain how no one in his office had told him about the astronomical sums of money Mr Quinn was losing.  

He said he did not believe the emails had been brought to his attention.

He said he denied that he had practised the art of not being told difficult things and added that he was not blaming anyone in his office.

He was asked if it was possible that he just forgot he had been told. Mr Neary said he did not believe this was the case.

Mr Neary said he had made his statement to gardaí without any notes or documents. 

He said his statement did not mention a meeting with David Drumm in autumn 2007 or the meeting with Mr Quinn in January 2008 because the statement started in March, when he first became aware of the extent of the holding.

Mr Neary said he recalled only one meeting with Mr Drumm in autumn 2007. He could not remember when it took place and had no notes of it.   

Mr Neary said he was at a meeting of the Domestic Standing Group - involving representatives of the Department of Finance, the Central Bank and the Regulator on 22 February.

Mr Neary said he did not believe he was aware of the extent of Mr Quinn's stake at this meeting, despite references in the minutes of the meeting to CFDs and Anglo.