Taoiseach Brian Cowen has denied that he or any of his ministers knew the identities of a group of wealthy individuals involved in questionable purchases of Anglo Irish Bank shares before the bank was nationalised.

The Office of Corporate Enforcement is investigating transactions surrounding the sale of the interest in the bank held by the family of billionaire businessman Sean Quinn.

The bizarre financial dealings at Anglo Irish Bank dominated leaders' Questions in the Dáil this afternoon, as Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmore quizzed the Taoiseach on when he knew of attempts to shore up the bank's share price.

Deputy Kenny sought an assurance from the Taoiseach that no member of his Government was involved - directly or indirectly - in encouraging the move by Anglo to lend money to ten individuals to purchase shares in the bank.

Deputy Gilmore pointed out that the taxpayer now owns Anglo, and was entitled to know who was involved.

Mr Cowen said he did not know the identity of the ten people involved, adding that there was no reference to the unwinding of the contracts for difference in the PricewaterhouseCoopers' report into Anglo.

He added that the Financial Regulator got legal advice from Anglo's advisors that this was a legal transaction and that was accepted at the time.

FitzPatrick given sterling and dollar loans

Meanwhile, it has emerged that former Anglo Irish Bank chairman Sean FitzPatrick was given tens of millions worth of sterling and dollar loans.

The loans were part of his transfers between the two institutions to conceal up to €122m in borrowings from Anglo Irish.

Today's Irish Times reports that Irish Nationwide provided Mr FitzPatrick with loans of $56m and £14m on September 26 2007. The building society also reportedly loaned Mr FitzPatrick $26m on September 27 2006, with an undertaking from Anglo Irish that it would repay the loan if Mr FitzPatrick could not.

This morning's report says these borrowings form only part of Mr FitzPatrick's loans from Irish Nationwide in 2007, as Anglo Irish Bank said last month that he had repaid €122m.

Sean FitzPatrick borrowed from Irish Nationwide over eight years, drawing loans before Anglo Irish's accounting year-end on September 30 and repaying them within days with fresh loans from Anglo.

By transferring the loans, the Irish Times says, Mr FitzPatrick hid them from the bank's auditors and shareholders. The Financial Regulator and the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement are investigating Mr FitzPatrick's loans.

The European Commission has said it has no objection to the nationalisation of Anglo Irish Bank as no state aid is linked to the move.

'The European Commission considers that the purchase of existing shares and the takeover of assets, when these are not accompanied by a capital injection, assumption of liabilities or other state measures, do not favour the financial institution,' it said.

Croke Park hospitality criticised

Meanwhile, a campaigner for homeless people has criticised Anglo Irish Bank for extending five-star corporate hospitality at two matches in Croke Park over the past fortnight.

A spokeswoman for the bank, which was nationalised last month, said its new board is expected to review its involvement in such hospitality.