Friday, March 14, 2014

Don't ask me about my business

The scene: it's January 2008. The chief Irish financial regulator Patrick Neary has been hearing oul' chat (as they say in rural Ireland) that flamboyant businessman Sean Quinn has amassed a large equity stake in the country's most aggressive bank, Anglo Irish, via unregulated and highly risky derivatives. Sean Quinn just happens to pop into the regulator's office, and ...

Mr Neary said he did not ask him directly as Mr Quinn was entitled, as a private citizen, to have any investments he wished. He said he did not think it would be appropriate to tackle a person about their own investment portfolio.

2 months later, Bear Stearns had to be rescued and banking share prices around the world crashed, including in Ireland. Quinn was effectively ruined at that point, and had at the very least compounded the bank's problems, although it would be another 6 months before that was in the open.

But at the start of the year, when there might still have been a chance to pull the game out of the fire, it was a gentlemen don't talk about stocks situation.