Sean FitzPatrick's loans

The Independent leads tomorrow with a story about €100m in outstanding loans on which former Anglo Irish Bank chairman Sean FitzPatrick is apparently not paying interest. That’s an interest bill of €400,000 a month, but no repayments are being made.

This actually partly relates to my story the other day about Anglo-Irish Nominees Ltd.

We know Mr FitzPatrick had personal loans from Anglo. But those loans did not include lending like the Atrium deal set out here. Money was lent to a company in which he appears to have had a beneficial interest. I wonder how much of Anglo’s lending related to Mr FitzPatrick’s personal interest in investments? This is on top of the personal loans we are already aware of.

The shareholders in Tysan, John Kerry Keane, Paul Coulson, Denis O’Brien, Lindat Limited, Lar Bradshaw, Sean Fitzpatrick, Gary McGann, Paddy Wright, Sean Melly, Pat Gunne, Longstone Estates Limited and Lochlann Quinn, don’t seem to have invested anything in the company apart from €3k share capital.

The liabilities of the company are pretty much all bank loans. The charge indicates there is no personal recourse to the borrowers. Anglo funded €70m of the purchase in 2005 and the 2006 accounts for Balcuik show an “ultimate shareholders loan” of €30m (probably lent by Anglo). The property was then revalued to €137m, handy that, and Anglo increased the borrowings and repaid the €30m to the shareholders. So there is no equity. Anglo get arrangement fees of around €2m and as much interest as possible and probably all of the risk.

And how many more of Anglo’s staff have loans, directly or indirectly, with Anglo?

And how many of these loans are going to be written off at taxpayer expense?

And of course the other question is this:

When Brian Lenihan met Sean FitzPatrick on September 18, 2008, the same day the first PwC report was requested, was Mr Lenihan, or the Regulator or Central Bank, already aware or made aware, of the extent of Mr FitzPatrick’s loans, direct or indirect?

It seems to me that when the results of that first PwC report on Anglo were given to the Government on September 27, just two days before the night of the bank guarantee, the Government, or its regulatory agencies, or Mr Lenihan himself, must have been aware of the extent of Mr FitzPatrick’s loans. The loans were too big for them not to be aware.

And were that the case, Anglo, including all of its deposits and liabilities, was guaranteed despite that knowledge.


Reports prepared for NAMA

Some time ago I sought the following information from the Department of Finance:

1) The titles, dates and authors of all cost-benefit analyses, impact reports or preparatory reports that have been carried out by the Department in relation to NAMA

2) The titles, dates and authors 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 NAMA

Outside of the FOI (though I still intend pursuing this information through FOI, whether or not it is rejected) I received the following information:

Merrill Lynch (engaged by NTMA)

A number of reports setting out options for the Irish banking sector, including the treatment of impaired assets

PwC (engaged by Financial Regulator)

Various reports produced by PwC, including due diligence on covered institutions arising from the Government guarantee Scheme and recapitalisation programme (in cases with the input of Jones Lang LaSalle)

Arthur Cox

Various legal assessments of covered institutions arising from the Government guarantee Scheme and recapitalisation programme

Peter Bacon, Special Advisor to the Minister / NTMA

Evaluation of options for resolving property loan impairments and associated capital adequacy of Irish credit institutions: Proposal for a National Asset Management Agency and associated required policy initiatives

Rothschild (engaged by NTMA)

Various reports and inputs into the preparations for the establishment of NAMA

Central Bank & Financial Regulator Reports

Various reports produced within normal operating parameters as well as certain assessments of the impact of contingency proposals

HSBC (engaged by NTMA)

A number of reports produced for the interim NAMA and the Minister

NTMA is a curious entity. Back in May were were promised salary scales for NAMA. Have you seen any? The salary of Mr Somers, the head of the NTMA is also secret, apparently. I feel another FOI request coming on.

Some questions for Mr Lenihan

The Daily Mail and Sunday Times have commented already on Lenihan’s diary as published here last week. The Daily Mail concentrated on the meeting with Stephen Schwarzman of Blackstone on November 12, 2008. The Sunday Times was more concerned with all the constituency work Mr Lenihan was doing when he perhaps should have been doing more important work.

For my own part I’ve been parsing the document to see what dates coincide. I’ve also drafted and sent two follow up FOIs on the basis of information gleaned from Mr Lenihan’s diary. There will likely be follow ups to those too.

However, the diary itself raises a number of questions that I will list here.

1) Why was a meeting with Sean FitzPatrick on September 18 not listed in the diary?

2) Were instructions given by the Minister to PwC, following the meeting with Mr FitzPatrick, to begin its inquiry into Anglo?

2) What was the purpose of the meeting with Pat McLoughlin of IPSO on September 25? Was this related to lobbying in relation to cheque usage and ATM charges?

3) On the night of the bank guarantee, September 25, who was present at the Department of the Taoiseach with Mr Lenihan and Mr Cowen? No names are listed in the diary, but names were reported in the media.

4) What was the purpose of the meeting with Independent News & Media chairman Brian Hillery on October 31, 2008?

5) What was the purpose of the meeting with Ivan Yates on November 5, 2008?

6) What was the purpose of the meeting with Stephen Schwarzman of Blackstone on November 12, 2008, and with James McGuill of the Law Society the same day?

7) What was the purpose of the meeting with Michael Ryan and Paul Ryan of Merrill Lynch on November 13, 2008?

8 ) What was the purpose of the meeting with Andre Orcell of Merrill Lynch and then Lochlainn Quinn on November 24, 2008?

9) What was the purpose of the meeting with Sean FitzPatrick and Donal Drumm of Anglo, on December 16, and why does the diary entry merely list the meeting as “Anglo Irish” instead of their names?

10) Why is there no mention of any meetings with Patrick Neary, the then Financial Regulator, right up until his resignation on the night of Friday, January 9?

11) What was the purpose of the meeting with property developer Stephen Vernon of Green Property on January 30, and with Axel Wieandt of Hypo Real Estate on the same day?

12) What was the purpose of the meeting with Rick Lazio of JP Morgan Chase (who ran against Hilary Clinton in New York in 2000) on April 24?

Those guidelines cited for the Golden Handshake

The severance package adhered to the guidelines set down by the Department of Finance“, they say. They being Tanaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Mary Coughlan, Taoiseach Brian Cowen, Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern, Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan and various other senior Government figures, including some Greens.

The guidelines they refer to are from a memo sent by the Department of Finance’s Head of Public Service Management and Development to all other government departments on the 26th of May 1998. It was titled “Severance and Early Retirement for Chief Executives of State Sponsored Bodies”.

You can read it below yourself, the bolding is my own. For your information, the Tribune has Mr Molloy listed as 53 as of 2007, making him around 55 or so upon the end of his contract. Also remember that Mr Molloy was head of the Institute of Public Administration until last week, which is a part-publicly-funded body, though he was unpaid (which makes it a grey area in employment law).

A Chara,

Severance and Early Retirement for Chief Executives of State Sponsored Bodies Continue reading “Those guidelines cited for the Golden Handshake”

Mary Coughlan’s talking points

Last month I sent the following Freedom of Information request:

FOI Unit
Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment,
Kildare Street,
Dublin 2,

August 13, 2009

Request for access to records under the Freedom of Information Acts 1997 and 2003

Dear Sir/Madam,

In accordance with Section 7 of the above mentioned act, I wish to request access to the following records which I believe to be held by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (“the Department”):

1) The portfolio prepared by the Department in advance of Mary Coughlan (“the Minister”) becoming Enterprise Minister on May 7, 2008, in order to brief her on her new role.

2) All briefing notes prepared for the Minister for an interview on RTE Radio with Marian Finucane, in March 2009.

3) All correspondence between John McGuinness TD and the Minister between April 1, 2009 and May 15, 2009. By correspondence I am referring to all written communications such as email, letter, memo etc sent from Mr McGuinness to Ms Coughlan and from Ms Coughlan to Mr McGuinness or either of their respective offices.

My preferred form of access to these documents is in digital (PDF/doc) format.

If you decide to request further payment I would like to be provided with an itemised fees receipt outlining precisely why an additional cost is required.

Please find enclosed a cheque in the amount of €15 in respect of the fee for a request under the Acts. I look forward to hearing from you in the time period prescribed under the Acts.

Please contact me by email to discuss any problems which may occur with this request.

Call it a curiosity FOI. The portfolio in 1) was mentioned by Coughlan herself during the course of the interview. For some strange reason, it is not included or referred to in the reply. I will be following up 1) this week.

I am *always* curious to know what briefing notes are prepared for ministers in advance of radio interviews. After listening to her interview with Marian Finucane in March, I was curious to see what had been prepared. A recent falling out with Mr McGuinness also formed part of the request, but not much resulted from that, as I more or less expected. They don’t write down much these days.

But Ms Coughlan’s “speaking points” are interesting. I will be seeking more of these in the coming weeks from other departments. It gives us an insight into what spin is being used by ministers, what are the rehearsed talking points, and might tell us just how much (or how little) ministers know what they are talking about.

Mary Coughlan FOI Including letter to John McGuinness and talking points for Marian Finucane interview. You can listen to that interview here (via realplayer).

Dermot Ahern on Molloy's Golden Handshake

Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern spoke about Rody Molloy’s €1m slap on the back and the viablity of Mary Coughlan’s position as tánaiste on RTÉ’s The Saturday View, earlier. Click the latest show button to have a listen.

Rachael English asked him if he agreed with his Fianna Fáil back bench colleagues who called Molloy’s pension “madness”.

He opened with a complete irrelevancy and based the rest of his defence on it.

“The fact is, eh, at the particular time, eh, the board spent, eh, well over a day, eh, discussing this issue… emmm… obviously they had certain information, eh, [which] they based their judgment on…”

I do not believe this was the case. I believe the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment would have had to sign off on all this and thus she, as head of the department, was responsible.

However, if it is the case that the board made the final decision to give Mr Molloy €11,000 a year extra on top of his pension, why was it not a member of the Government? Last time I heard, a civil servant didn’t have such a mandate. So who is responsible according to Minister Ahern?

He continues, referring now to Rody Molloy’s outrageous expenses…

Continue reading “Dermot Ahern on Molloy's Golden Handshake”

Finance briefing documents

As part of my FOI request seeking the diary of Finance Minister Brian Lenihan, I also sought briefing documents used by himself and the Department’s Secretary General David Doyle. My request asked for:

1. The diary of the Minister for Finance (dates given)
2. Briefing notes prepared for the Minister for Finance for an appearance before the Joint Committee on Finance and the Public Service, and
3. Briefing notes prepared for the Secretary General of the Department of Finance for his appearance before the PAC.

Item two was refused outright.

Item three. Is largely granted but a number of records or parts of records have been refused. Furthermore, records relating to the President do not fall within the scope of the Act and accordingly, that part of the briefing material concerned with Vote 1 (President’s Establishment) has been excluded (S. 46 (d)).

In the document they outline what has been included. I am uploading these documents in parts, because it was over 200mb (800 pages) in size.

Part 1 is now available.

Help us with The Big Dig

Update: We’ve removed date of births after a question about data protection. We don’t think we’d have a problem with it but we’re being conservtive, it’s too early to ask for readers to donate to our litigation battles! We had most of the info already and kept a copy, just removed it from the public doc…

Myself and Gavin are working on a number of long-term projects looking into the financial and business backgrounds of our public representatives.

One of these projects could be thought of as the deepest dig into the business interests of Irish politcians undertaken… well, ever. We’ll be looking at all serving TDs and their business interests (not just in Ireland), whether they’re director, manager, or shareholder, and doing similar digs on other public representatives, over the next few months.

Be assured, we have some nice shovels at our disposal.

To begin, as this is a crowdsourcing experiment, we’re asking readers for help. I’ve set up a document which can be publicly edited that we’d would love some assistance completing.

The categories that require attention are:

  • TDs Name in English (if Irish used)
  • Profession (pre-politics)
  • Date of birth
  • Partner’s name (pre-marriage and/or if possible, post-marriage)
  • Partner’s date of birth
  • Obviously, we don’t expect to be able to crowdsource all this information – I suspect there’ll be almost no available data on partner’s date of birth – but each nugget will be useful. Of course, we’ll have to confirm it ourselves before we publish any resulting stories, but this is to give us some direction.

    It also saves us a fair few hours which we can use to dig about rather than spend building the foundations of the investigation.

    All the relevant information we gather will be made public and, if applicable, connected to the KildareStreet database, upon completion of the diggin’.

    And vandals, if there are any out there, we can roll the document back to X:XXpm/am at any point, ruining it is simply a waste of your time.

    Help us find out more about your TDs’ business history

    Thanks in advance.

    Liam Carroll's web of companies

    I’ve made a stab at tracking the web of companies that fall under the various Morston Investments companies. There are a number of curious facts about these companies, clues of which can be found in some of the locations and names of companies. The number after each company name is my own, to help me distinguish between the various Morstons.

    Liam Carroll spreadsheet

    I was especially curious about Morston UK. Mr Carroll does not appear anywhere on the company information for the UK firm. However, Morston UK has a Dutch subsidiary called Vantive Finance (interesting name), which in turn has an Irish subsidiary called Vantive CC (which does list Mr Carroll as a director). Why this complex structure? And who are the curious pair who direct Morston UK? (more on that later).

    Another curious name to pop up relates to Morston (4). The holding companies all contain typical directorships (Carroll and Pope), bar one. That directorship in one of the subsidiaries (Zoe OptionGrantco) is one Ms Natalia Romanova, according to company information, who is based in Dublin.

    Thoughts anyone?

    Brian Lenihan’s diary

    Following an FOI request, the Department of Finance has released Brian Lenihan’s diary appointments, September 1, 2008 to March 31, 2009. I have uploaded it. It relates to the period of the bank guarantee, Anglo nationalisation and NAMA planning.

    Finance Minister Brian Lenihan’s diary appointments, September 1, 2008 to March 31, 2009: