Monday, January 17, 2011

Developer was key force behind interview Drumm gave to two jounalists - The Irish Times - Sat, Jan 15, 2011

PAUL CULLEN, Political Staff

PRIVATE BRIEFING: LEADING DEVELOPER Garrett Kelleher was the prime mover behind a private briefing by former Anglo Irish Bank chief executive David Drumm with two journalists last November, The Irish Times understands.

During the briefing, Mr Drumm alleged Brian Cowen asked the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) to put deposits into the ailing bank in April 2008.

The allegation, denied by the Taoiseach and NTMA head Michael Somers, surfaced in media reports last November, attributed to an “unnamed” Anglo director. Yesterday, the Irish Daily Mail ran lengthy extracts from the briefing and linked Mr Drumm to the allegation for the first time.

The article quotes Mr Drumm as saying Mr Cowen told the Anglo executive he “told those f-ckers” to invest in the bank.

Mr Drumm was asked at one point: “And Biffo intervened directly ?” He replied: “Yes, there’s no question.”

Mr Drumm claimed the former financial regulator, Patrick Neary, knew about the bank’s problems with businessman Sean Quinn, who had built up a 25 per cent stake. He also blamed the media for letting the Government “get away” with blaming everything on the bank. “And it’s not credible,” Mr Drumm said.

“Somebody killed the country. It wasn’t us. €20 billion was the debit of the country, that was created in the time of Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen.”

Mr Drumm spoke for over an hour by conference call from the US to writer and columnist Bruce Arnold and Mr Kelleher. Arnold was approached because of his stated belief that Fianna Fáil croneyism is to blame for the country’s economic problems, rather than any individual banker.

Another journalist, Jason O’Toole, was invited by Mr Arnold to be present in his home in Sandycove, Co Dublin, during the call, but Mr Drumm was not aware that he was present.

Mr Kelleher, who is close to Mr Drumm and shares his view that Anglo is being scapegoated for the economic crisis, organised the call to give Arnold an insight into the former Anglo chief’s version in relation to the collapse of the bank and Mr Cowens role in events.

Mr Drumm understood the information was being provided on a background, non-attributable basis.

O’Toole could not be contacted yesterday but Irish Daily Mail editor Paul Drury said O’Toole had been invited to attend the briefing and at no time was he told that Mr Drumm was speaking off the record.

Asked whether the call had been recorded, Mr Drury said that he didn’t know. O’Toole had made detailed records and had compared notes with another journalist who was present.

Mr Drumm declined to comment yesterday.

O’Toole, Arnold and Mr Kelleher could not be contacted.

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