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Correspondence: Phoenix Magazine article on What Did Begg Know about Anglo

26 February 2014

HI All

Please see the article below from the current issue of the Phoenix magazine (Feb 14th) on the suppression of any questions regarding the role of David Begg ICTU representative of the Central Bank Board for 15 years and chair of its Audit committee. 

Perhaps this publicity may create an opening for those concerned with the role of trade union leaders such as Begg in facilitating the attacks on the workers of the country. We have had fruitless inquiry after fruitless inquiry into the corruption which accompanied the boom and the collapse of the economy, none of which came to any conclusion.

In light of this it might be appropriate to launch a petition to collect signatures demanding that David Begg make a full report on his role on the CB Board and/or call for an inquiry supported by trade unionists/workers, community organizations and concerned individuals to get to the root of all the criminality and avalanche of corruption that has taken place and is ongoing. The article/issue could be raised or disseminated by left candidates during the upcoming elections.

If you are interested in pursuing the above please contact me and we can discuss same.


Anne Conway

What did Begg know about Anglo 


14  February 2014

WILL Irish Congress of Trade Unions (Ictu) boss David Bcgg, who also happens to have been a board member of the Central Bank for 15 years until 2010, be called as a witness in the trial of the Anglo Three? Begg, who also chaired the CB’s audit committee, has already been spared the indignity of questioning about what, if anything, he knew about the bank guarantee and the activities of Anglo-Irish Bank. In fact RTE apologised to Begg for comments made by a caller to Joe Duffy’s Liveline programme last summer about his alleged knowledge of Anglo’s behavior as “wholly untrue and without foundation” in a statement that makes the station’s reaction to Panti Bliss look positively courageous.

Trade union activist Anne Conway phoned Duffy’s show on June 27 last to say that as a CB board member he must have had full access to financial information during the credit bubble and that he should make a full statement to his Ictu members about what he knew. 

Duffy responded by saying, “We don’t know what went on within the CB in fairness”, to which Conway retorted. “We don’t know what went on but he knows”, adding that if he did not know “he was asleep — one way or the other he is just as culpable in my view as the rest of them (CB board members)”.

RTE received an angry complaint from lCTU instantly and equally promptly snapped to attention with an apology and retraction issued at the beginning of Duffy’s Liveline show the next day. The station withdrew a podcast of the show and its apology defended Begg on the basis that he was not a member of the CB’s regulatory authority, a charge that Conway had never made.

Conway complained to RTE about its statement arguing that it had impugned her own good name. She also pointed out that reports from all CB sub-committees and “regulatory developments” are circulated to members of the CB board. 

In prolonged correspondence with RTE- Conway added that a media report last year quoted Begg’s account of a meeting he had, with the then finance minister, the late Brian Lenihan, at around 5pm on September 29, 2008, just hours before the bank guarantee decision was made. As Conway recounted in her letter to RTE, the Sunday Independent quoted Begg as recalling that as he drove up Merrion Street to meet Lenihan the five o’clock news came on. Begg said, “The collapse in share price of Anglo and other banks was the lead item, so quite clearly things were imploding”. Conway pointed out to RTE- that Begg did not raise the reported imminent banking collapse with Lenihan and according to his own report of the meeting it was totally routine, business as usual. She added, “It is beyond belief that Mr Begg with 15 years experience on the Central Bank board and considerable experience on other company boards did not think to expand his meeting with Brian Lenihan beyond the routine to the looming disaster threatening to crash the entire banking system”.

Following her detailed rebuttal of RTE’s rebuttal of her Liveline remarks, Conway was informed that her analysis of Begg’s alleged role in the (non) oversight of Anglo and the banks guarantee had “been forwarded to the relevant senior editorial executives including the managing director news and current affairs, deputy managing director news and current affairs, managing editor TV current affairs and the editor current affairs radio”. Perhaps naively, Conway expected that the inquisitive editorial instincts of these editorial heads would result in a follow up inquiry into the role of Begg and other CB board members in the banking disaster that was Anglo. Not a chance.

Interestingly, in the light of recent demands to disclose the legal advice RTE- relied on in their capitulation to lona Institute members over the homophobia controversy, RTE also told Conway that details of their legal advice in the Begg issue cannot be disclosed as it is “legally privileged”.

Will Begg be called on to give evidence in the Anglo trial and if so, will he receive the same kid glove treatment?

End of Phoenix article


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