January 9, 2011 / 11:48 AM / 9 years ago

Ex-Anglo Irish Bank chair regrets role in bank collapse

DUBLIN (Reuters) - The former chairman of Anglo Irish Bank AGIB.UL apologised for his role in the collapse of Ireland’s third biggest bank, which forced the government to nationalise it two years ago.

Sean FitzPatrick, who was CEO before becoming chairman, said in December 2008 he had kept shareholders in the dark for years about loans worth 80 million euros he had received from Anglo Irish Bank. Police arrested him last year as part of a fraud investigation but he was released 24 hours later without charge.

“I am very happy to put my hands up. I am very happy to apologize to all my creditors. I don’t feel ashamed, but I do feel regret, very serious regret, and I am sorry that it is going to cause people losses,” he was quoted by the Irish Sunday Times as saying.

The newspaper said FitzPatrick’s comments came in a series of interviews for The FitzPatrick Tapes, a book in which the banker gives an account of the bank’s collapse.

Ireland’s justice minister said last month four suspects had been identified in a long-running fraud investigation about the events leading up to the nationalisation of Anglo, including whether deposits were used to mask large withdrawals.

Bancassurer Irish Life & Permanent IPM.I said in 2009 it had deposited between 6 billion euros ($7.9 billion) and 7 billion euros with Anglo in September 2008 to provide “exceptional support” at a time when the world’s financial sector was hit badly by the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

FitzPatrick said warehousing his personal loans from Anglo with Irish Nationwide IRNBS.UL, which meant shareholders were unaware of them, was “wrong in hindsight”, but insisted he had done nothing illegal.

Anglo is pursuing former chairman Sean FitzPatrick and chief executive David Drumm for repayment of loans but both have declared themselves bankrupt.

“What I did was wrong and it was a mistake. But it does not deserve ... the punishment that has been inflicted on me over the past two years. I can’t repay all of the liabilities that I owe but I didn’t run and steal the money,” he said.

Ireland now controls four of its six main lenders following the collapse of the sector which forced the country to seek an 85 billion euro EU/IMF bailout package late last year.

Reporting by Yara Bayoumy; Editing by Jon Hemming

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