Senator David Norris' address to Seanad Eireann (the Irish Senate)

In Sept. 2007, fourteen months before Ireland's bank bailout, I resigned from my position as the Risk Manager of UniCredit Bank Ireland. I did that in order not to incriminate myself. I have spent the last 4 years seeking justice. On Feb. 23rd., 2010, I was fortunate to have Senator David Norris raise the matter in Seanad Eireann (the Irish Senate), and request a response from the Minister of Finance, Mr. Brian Lenihan. Senator Norris concluded by stating that:
"...there is ministerial responsibility in this matter. This is a grossly serious matter which has been reported to the Financial Regulator. A man has lost his job as a result. He honourably resigned. The degree of breach was 40 times the accepted margin. This is a disaster. If we are not prepared to face the issue and investigate it when it has been laid before the House, there is absolutely no hope for the financial system or its reputation worldwide...How can the Financial Regulator investigate himself? He was in breach of his responsibility."
In Nov. 2011, Emma Alberici, Europe correspondent for ABC TV, told my story as part of her documentary 'Going Rogue' which featured Nick Leeson and Sir John Vickers among other interviewees. It is ironic that at a time when the Irish tax-payer is bailing out un-secured bond holders, my story which occurred in Dublin, is deemed of interest to the Australian TV license payer. Please click on 'play video' on the following link:
VRT, Belgian state-TV, aired this interview with me on March 6th., 2013. My Interview begins in minute 27:
Het verdriet van Europa: Zeepbellen blazen (The sadness of Europe: Bursting bubbles)
VRT, Belgian state-TV, released extra footage of my interview on March 8th., 2013. (in English):

Monday, 3 December 2012

German man locked up over HVB bank [UniCredit's Bavarian subsidiary] allegations may have been telling truth - The Guardian, 28 Nov. 2012

German man locked up over HVB bank allegations may have been telling truth

Gustl Mollath was put in a psychiatric unit for claiming his wife was involved in money-laundering at the Bavarian bank. But seven years on evidence has emerged that could set him free

Horst Seehofer, the prime minister of Bavaria, has called for Gustl Mollath's case to be reopened. Photograph: Pawel Kopczynski/Reuters

A German man committed to a high-security psychiatric hospital after being accused of fabricating a story of money-laundering activities at a major bank is to have his case reviewed after evidence has emerged proving the validity of his claims.
In a plot worthy of a crime blockbuster, Gustl Mollath, 56, was submitted to the secure unit of a psychiatric hospital seven years ago after court experts diagnosed him with paranoid personality disorder following his claims that staff at the Hypo Vereinsbank (HVB) – including his wife, then an assets consultant at HVB – had been illegally smuggling large sums of money into Switzerland.
Mollath was tried in 2006 after his ex-wife accused him of causing her physical harm. He denied the charges, claiming she was trying to sully his name in the light of the evidence he allegedly had against her. He was admitted to the clinic, where he has remained against his will ever since.
But recent evidence brought to the attention of state prosecutors shows that money-laundering activities were indeed practiced over several years by members of staff at the Munich-based bank, the sixth-largest private financial institute in Germany, as detailed in an internal audit report carried out by the bank in 2003. The report, which has now been posted online, detailed illegal activities including money-laundering and aiding tax evasion. A number of employees, including Mollath's wife, were subsequently sacked following the bank's investigation.
The "Mollath affair", as it has been dubbed by the German media, has taken on such political dimensions that it now threatens to bring down the government of Bavaria. Under the weight of public and political pressure Horst Seehofer, the prime minister of the rich southern state and a member of the Christian Social Union (CSU) – the sister party to Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats – has now called for the case to be reopened, amid charges that Mollath was possibly the victim of a gross miscarriage of justice.
"The judiciary would be well-advised to reassess the case," Seehofer said this week. "I want them to concentrate on the question of whether everything has been done correctly."
His justice minister, Beate Merk, who has refused repeated calls to resign, said she had no doubt the case had been carried out "by the book and quite correctly".
Mollath has been inundated with public support in the form of thousands of letters and internet posts, many comparing his fight to that of David versus Goliath. He said he was delighted that what he called the "murky business of the bank" is now emerging, 10 years after he first made his claims.
"This is precisely what I wanted to achieve all along," he told the Süddeutsche Zeitung, which brought the audit report to light earlier this month. In an interview in his sparsely furnished room in Bayreuth's hospital for psychiatry, he pointed out the irony that he had suffered the fate he had repeatedly warned his wife she would face, telling her: 'Please be careful. One day you will end up in handcuffs and then you'll be banged up for a few years'", he said.
Asked whether it felt any responsibility towards Mollath, a spokeswoman for HVB told the Guardian: "We don't recognise any connection between the results of our audit report and either the criminal trial or the commitment of Mr Mollath."
Asked why the bank kept the report to itself and did not approach the authorities, the spokeswoman added: "In 2003 HVB initiated extensive investigations via internal audits in response to information provided by Mr Mollath on transactions that had taken place a long time before … It was determined that employees had acted contrary to their instructions regarding Swiss banking transactions".
But while the findings, it said, had resulted in sackings, the audit "did not produce sufficient evidence indicating criminal conduct … that would have made a criminal charge seem appropriate".

Sunday, 2 December 2012

My speech at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece, 19 Nov. 2012

Here are the announcement & link to the speech I gave at Aristotle University in Thessaloniki (my speech begins at 1:22:30):



The University Initiative for Policy Alternative outlets invites you to an event on:

"Alternative policies for managing the crisis"


Leonidas Vatikiotis, Economist, Journalist 
John Theodosius, Professor of Economics, University of Aberdeen, 

Lefteris Tsoulfidis, Associate Professor, Department of Economics, University of Macedonia, 

Jonathan Sugarman, Financial commentator, former Risk Manager of UniCredit Bank Ireland

Contact Info
About the event
Monday, the 19th November, 2012 - 6pm to 9pm
KE.D.E.A Building (Auditorium A, ground floor)
Event organization
University Initiative for Policy Alternative outlets
Submitted on 15/11/2012 @ 14:35

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Dr. Brian Hillery, Mr. Matthew Elderfield, care for a probity test?

David Malone raised some interesting points in his Golem XIV blog last Friday: David learned his craft as a documentary maker at the BBC science department, where he worked for 9 years, ending up on Horizon. Since then he has made films for Channel 4, BBC2 and more recently BBC4. Some of his documentaries are available on YouTube.


Jonathan Sugarman versus UniCredit – an update

by Golem XIV on NOVEMBER 16, 2012 in LATEST

WhistleblowerIRL, AKA Jonathan Sugarman continues to fight UniCredit. One rather impecunious man fighting a trillion euro bank. But Jonathan is nothing if not …well I leave you to fill in the blank.

The update comes via a very good 12th Nov. editorial in Village Magazine in Ireland, “Blowing the whistle so hard it hurts”.

"In December 2010 a risk-manager in the Irish unit of UniCredit, Italy’s largest bank, described in Village how in 2007 the Financial Regulator failed to intervene after he first alleged he falsified liquidity-ratio  figures. The risk-manager maintained he was specifically warned by senior personnel at the Irish subsidiary not to report the matter to the Financial Regulator
Jonathan Sugarman blew the whistle on the massive repeated breaches. This magazine received aggressive threats from McCann FitzGerald solicitors on behalf of UniCredit not to publish the information."

To the credit of its publisher and owner, Michael Smith, the magazine has stood by the story and refused to be cowed.  I recommend reading the whole story. You can follow any further developments at Jonathan’s blog.

One thing to keep in mind when you read the story. The Irish financial regulator, Matthew Elderfield, was recruited, fresh from his earlier success at being one of the three Heads of Department at the British regulator, the FSA who were overseeing…Northern Rock. Mr Elderfield, along with his two fellow Heads of Department, was specifically criticised in the official report into Northern Rock. His supporters, namely the people in Ireland who hired him, will say he was only in that job three months when Northern Rock imploded. What, and that makes his silence all right?! So if an aircraft inspector had only been at his job for three months it would be fine for him to say nothing about an unsafe aircraft? That would be OK would it?

That would be a double standard if one could call it any sort of standard at all.

So I have my doubts about Mr Elderfield. Which are made worse when you consider some of the people above him and the world view they seem to have.  You see there is an old guard In Ireland – as there is in most countries, mine definitely included – that has not moved on and has zero intention of ever moving on. Here for example you can watch Mr Bertie Ahern back in 2007 saying how he can’t understand why people who talk down the wonders of Ireland’s no-touch economy don’t just kill themselves.  Mr Ahern was never Elderfield’s boss. I mention Ahern simply as an example of a world-view which is still there, defended by people still in positions of power.

One such old guard is Mr Elderfield’s boss, Dr Brian Hillery.  Dr Hillery was appointed to be a Director of the Central Bank of Ireland which incorporates the Financial Regulators Office of Ireland, in May 2008. Before his appointment to be guardian of financial probity in Dublin, he was the Chairman of …UniCredit Bank Ireland at the precise time Mr Sugarman was there trying to report those financial ‘problems’ to the financial regulator (who at the time was Mr Elderfields disgeraced predecessor, Mr Patrick Neary). So definitely no conflict of interests there. Obviously.

I feel absolutely sure that Dr Hillery would be very comfortable with, and would fully support, a rigorous investigation of UniCredits’ behaviour and its attention to the law, and that the pressure brought to bear upon Village magazine when it chose to write about Unicredit and its breaches of liquidity are purely coincidental. I feel equally sure Mr Elderfield would feel fully supported in any investigation he undertook , which combined with his own proven track record of razor sharp and iron fisted regulatory zeal must make the Irish people feel warm all over. In good hands – as the priest/radio one DJ said to the boy.

Oh and it might be worth keeping in mind that  Dr Hillery was also Chairman of Independent Newspapers in Ireland. Whose papers have not covered this story with any great … regularity shall we say.

 A reader's Comment:

C. Flower November 17, 2012 at 11:51 am # 
Great post, and also choice comments from the Dork from Cork. Jonathan Sugarman thought his job was risk management, when in reality it seems his employers wanted him to be rubber stamping illegal breaches of liquidity. Bank bosses knew their banks had gone over a cliff and the whole strategy was to buy time to consolidate their personal wealth and pass debt over to the public. The role of insiders like Hillery in this is essential – in part in that they give an aura of probity, respectability, and officialdom (Hillery being the son of a past President of Ireland) to a rogue operation – and also in that they tie “officialdom” and the political class into a backstream of financial benefits. Hillery is discussed further here –

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Blowing the whistle so hard it hurts - Village magazine's latest editorial article

Nearly all Ireland’s banks breached liquidity requirements, leading to the lack of liquidity that the government provided a guarantee against, and which ultimately emerged as the insolvency that bankrupted the country and immiserated the next generation. Failures at the Regulator and in the Central Bank contributed as much as anything to this bankruptcy. The public is entitled to know that these well-paid and cosseted functionaries have learnt lessons and are now demonstrating the most stringent and scrupulous standards. It’s interesting then to know how they treated the most important whistleblower in Irish banking history.
In December 2010 a risk-manager in the Irish unit of UniCredit, Italy’s largest bank, described in Villagehow in 2007 the Financial Regulator failed to intervene after he first alleged he falsified liquidity-ratio  figures. The risk-manager maintained he was specifically warned by senior personnel at the Irish subsidiary not to report the matter to the Financial Regulator, even though sound banking depends on maintenance of these ‘liquidity ratios’ which are crucial to the ability of the company to deal with losses of confidence. The liquidity ratio should be no less than 90 per cent. At UniCredit it was calculated at an extraordinary 50 per cent. A ratio of 89 per cent would in normal circumstances be deemed problematic. In banking terms this is like paying with a two-euro note.
Jonathan Sugarman blew the whistle on the massive repeated breaches. This magazine received aggressive threats from McCann FitzGerald solicitors on behalf of UniCredit not to publish the information.
The new ‘poster-boy’ regulator, Matthew Elderfield,  stated in response to questions from the Sunday Business Post, and the Süddeutsche Zeitung, a respected German newspaper, about statements made in the Seanad by David Norris which backed up Sugarman’s account, that “our records do not match the description of events given by Senator Norris nor did we receive what might be described as a ‘whistleblower’ letter.  We can, however, confirm that an overnight liquidity breach was reported by an institution around the time in question. The matter was followed up with the institution and rectified to the satisfaction of the Financial Regulator at the time”.
For someone in whom so much public good-will has been invested, this is remarkably disingenuous, though certainly true. The Regulator’s records presumably do not match Senator Norris’s because its agents didn’t look hard enough or take a proper record; and the Regulator did not receive a whistleblower letter as the letter came from UniCredit itself, which limited its declaration to one overnight breach. Notably, nothing the Regulator said undermined the credibility of the risk-manager.
Largely as a result of the story in Village which named the bank, the Central Bank said it would conduct a review of the case and invited parties with information to share it: “if any party has specific information  they wish to draw to our attention in this matter it will be treated on a confidential basis”. Things dragged out but in February 2012 the risk-manager attended a meeting with the office of the regulator.  Scandalously the bank’s offer of ‘confidentiality’ was revealed under pressure to be spurious when it insisted that it wouldn’t be enough to shield Sugarman against self-incrimination in the event his own actions constituted criminal activity.  The Central Bank insisted it must forward information to the DPP if there were evidence of a crime. This highlights the need for whistleblower legislation to protect insiders who tell their truth – and particularly that legislation should be retrospective, so it would embrace cases like Mr Sugarman’s.
In June, the Central bank informed Mr Sugarman, without giving reasons, that the matter was closed and only after Mark Keenan raised the affair anew in the Irish Independent in September, did the Central Bank finally furnished minutes of the meeting it had had with Mr Sugarman. This was six months after the original meeting.  For some reason Mr Keenan is no longer writing on these issues in the Irish Independent.
Matthew Elderfield and his office are doing no favours to EU banking regulators, or to the world’s banking and economic system, in being   disingenuous about liquidity breaches at the elusive UniCredit. If there is a desire not to frighten the horses just while our bailout is under review, it is misplaced.  The lesson of recent history for this country is scrupulousness and openness.
There is a general official view that Ireland’s ethical delinquencies are in the past. Deviant planning stopped when the tribunals started; and bad banking regulation stopped with the demise of Pat Neary. In fact this is not so with planning as we have seen with the kicking to touch of John Gormley’s reviews of planning in six counties. Scrutiny of what happened in banking has been limited to two innocuous reports by Patrick Honohan, Peter Nyberg and Klaus Regling. These notably failed to attribute blame or to deal with how liquidity ratios were breached all over financial Dublin with no comment from the usual over-paid auditors, and no sanction.
Inconveniently for a country that has started to see corruption and regulation in black (then) and white (now) terms, the general view may not reflect the reality. Without proper scrutiny we cannot be sure either way.
Like bad planning, bank under-regulation was a manifestation of this country’s ineradicable tendency to pander to vested interests and to the short term. It is time we got to the bottom of what happened in Irish banking.  Scrupulous investigation of Mr Sugarman’s allegations would be a symbolic good start.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

The efficacy of Irish whistleblower legislation - a Village magazine cartoon that says a million words...

Villager September-October ’12 including threats to whistleblower, Sugarman

Village, Sep 11th, 2012 | By admin | Category: NEWS

Jonathan Sugarman, a former Risk Manager, blew the  whistle on his then employer Unicredit Bank,  Italy’s biggest, which  in 2007 failed dramatically to maintain proper liquidity ratios – which keep banks from customer runs on their funds.  Village was the first to name Unicredit, despite threats from McCann FitzGerald solicitors that Unicredit would sue if implicated. Subsequently the Central Bank Financial Regulator’s Department,  announced that it would consider any information offered about the affair “in confidence” but when Sugarman contacted them they revealed that in fact they reserved the right to report him to the Gardai for criminal activity if he offered the Central Bank information that implicated him.  In the  end – in February – Sugarman bravely nevertheless met the Central Bank, which indicated that they had already asked Unicredit to recreate reports dating back to the alleged breaches in 2007 but gave no information as to how their investigations were proceeding.  Subsequently the Central Bank indicated, with no reasoning, that it was closing the file – and notably failed to produce minutes.  When the Irish Independent’s intrepid Mark Keenan recently started sniffing about the issue, the Central Bank finally sent minutes of the meeting,  It is not clear if the file remains closed, or why, and the Central Bank, for the moment is keeping schtum.
Please see my previous blog post in which I make further points about this latest update in Village.
Just as a reminder, this is what the Irish Minister of Finance said a year ago about the new legislation introduced to protect whistle blowers in banks:

Central Bank Bill published - The Irish Times, 28 July 2011
New legislation that enhances the Central Bank's regulatory powers and provides protection for whistleblowers was published today.
The Central Bank (Supervision and Enforcement) Bill 2011 strengthens the ability of authorities to impose and supervise compliance with regulatory requirements and to undertake interventions when necessary.
The publication of the Bill is a further requirement under the EU-IMF programme of support for Ireland.
Announcing the publication of the Bill this morning, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan said the legislation was a response to the regulatory failures which led to the recent financial crisis.
"The publication of the Central Bank (Supervision and Enforcement) Bill 2011 represents a significant further step in the reform of financial regulation in Ireland. The changes introduced by the Bill will underpin an assertive, risk-based model of regulation supported by a credible threat of enforcement," said Mr Noonan.
Among the provisions included in the Bill is protection from civil liability and victimisation for so-called whistleblowers and a requirement for financial service providers to provide independently prepared reports to the Central Bank for diagnostic, monitoring and compliance purposes.
The power to issue regulatory interventions is included in the new legislation as is the ability to fine or suspend financial services providers where necessary.
The Bill is expected to progress to second stage in the Dáil this autumn.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Pandora's box begins to open despite the best efforts of The Central Bank & McCann FitzGerald on behalf of UniCredit - Upcoming report in Village magazine

Michael Smith, editor & owner of Village magazine, authorised me this evening to publish the following update which is to appear in Village magazine next week:
Jonathan Sugarman, a former Risk Manager, blew the whistle on his then employer Unicredit Bank, Italy’s biggest, which in 2007 failed dramatically to maintain proper liquidity ratios – which keep banks
from customer runs on their funds. Village was the first to name Unicredit, despite threats from McCann FitzGerald solicitors that they would sue if implicated. Subsequently the Central Bank Financial Regulator’s Department, announced that it would consider any information offered about the affair “in confidence” but when Sugarman contacted them they revealed that in fact they reserved the right to report him to the Gardai for criminal activity if he offered the Central Bank information that implicated him. In the end – in February - Sugarman bravely nevertheless met the Central Bank, which indicated that they had already asked Unicredit to recreate reports dating back to the alleged breaches in 2007 but gave no information as
to how their investigations were proceeding. Subequently the Central Bank indicated, with no reasoning, that it was closing the file – and notably failed to produce minutes. When the Irish Independent’s Mark Keenan recently started sniffing about the issue, the
Central Bank finally sent minutes of the meeting. It is not clear if the file remains closed, or why, and the Central Bank, for the moment 
is keeping schtum.

The implications of the piece above are far reaching. For the moment, I will touch only on some of them:

1. May 2011 was the first time the Central Bank of Ireland invited me to their offices to discuss the liquidity breach I had officially  reported in the summer of 2007. I was invited to come and talk to them "confidentially". During the meeting it became clear that the confidentiality undertaking pertained merely to my identity. I was then threatened by CB officials with the possibility of having to face criminal proceedings as a result of disclosing any facts about what transpired during my employment as UniCredit Ireland's Risk Manager.

2. Having followed the Eugene McErlean case closely, I requested the Central Bank's permission to record our meetings. The answer was NO. Please see the e-mail below for further reference. It took eight long years for the Central Bank of Ireland to admit that it had been less than professional in dealing with the issues McErlean brought to the CB's attention as a senior AIB auditor. Kathleen Barrington reported in the Sunday Business Post in October 2010 that:

"The significance of the apology issued by Elderfield last week should not be underestimated. It was generously and graciously phrased, and it left no doubt that McErlean had been doing his job properly and that he had been badly let down by the regulatory authorities. Elderfield said it was his opinion that ‘‘some matters could have been better handled by the public authorities involved’’ and added that he was ‘‘sorry for any unintended distress caused for Mr McErlean’’

One has to wonder why I was not allowed to record my meetings with the Central Bank of Ireland. After all, I was the one doing the talking, they were doing the listening, why would I not be allowed to record my own voice?!? Unfortunately for the Central Bank of Ireland, I was accompanied to my meetings with them by a person who is well known in Dublin and formally-educated in Irish law. 

3. A second meeting with the Central Bank of Ireland took place on February 23rd. this year.  When minutes of our meeting failed to arrive, the CB was contacted seeking clarification. A reply dated June 6th. was received; it did not include any minutes of the February meeting and stated that the case is now closed

This might be pure co-incidence, but on the day that Mark Keenan's first of two references to my story within last week appeared in the Irish Independent, the Central Bank issued minutes of of the meeting. Yes, the minutes of a meeting that took place in February were issued in August after the case had been declared closed in June. 

A crucial aspect of the minutes that were issued last week is the complete absence of an admission made repeatedly during the meeting by Central Bank officials. Whilst there is no recording of the meeting (in this age of alleged transparency & probity in Irish financial services), I was fortunately accompanied to the meeting by the person whom I refer to above. 

4. Anyone wishing to write to me regarding the above, should please do so to the following address:

Alternatively, comments/questions can be raised publicly on-line on the following thread on I am very grateful for all the encouragement and support I have received from PoliticalWorld members.

5. I can not over-state my gratitude to Michael Smith who decided to persist and publish his coverage of the liquidity breaches at UniCredit Ireland, despite ferocious threats from McCann Fitgerald - one of Ireland's biggest law firms. Please see the following article which was published in Village magazine in December 2010:


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Oakes Peter <>
Date: 18 April 2011 21:28
Subject: RE: Jonathan Sugarman - meeting with the Central Bank, Wednesday 4th May
To: Jonathan Sugarman

Dear Mr Sugarman

I had assumed that the meeting was confirmed for 4th May and that we only had to settle on the time for the meeting (proposed for 10.30a.m.)  I apologise if this was not clear from the exchange of emails. 

Please note that the agenda is simply an open invitation to you to inform the Central Bank’s banking supervisory division of any matter or issue, coming to your attention out of your employment with Unicredit, which you may wish to share with the Central Bank. 

It is not the Central Bank’s intention that the meeting be recorded by either party.  I note that you wish Mr X to attend the meeting.  In what capacity do you propose Mr X attend the meeting please?  For example is Mr X retained to provide you legal advice or would he be attending for another purpose?    

Would you please provide a postal correspondence address and telephone number? 

Going forward Mr Frank Brosnan of the Central Bank (or one of his colleagues) will correspond with you.

I will now be away from the office for a number of weeks.  My PA’s email is  Ms SC will forward any emails you might send her to Mr Brosnan’s office until you and Mr Brosnan are in direct contact.


Peter Oakes
Director, Enforcement
Central Bank of Ireland

The Irish Independent referred to UniCredit Ireland again last Thursday

Mark Keenan reported in The Independent last week that:

"...In 2005, Dublin-based Cologne RE played a pivotal role in a sham scheme to inflate the reserves of US insurance giant AIG -- the scandal that originally brought the IFSC its international "wild west" monicker. US Investigators heard that "Cologne RE was seen as an ideal location for the fraud because Dublin "did not report to anyone" and so avoided the "North American problem" of financial regulation.
In 2007, German bank Sachsen LB needed a bailout when it was discovered that its two Dublin-based investment vehicles had insufficient assets to cover their liabilities.There was the Depfa bank scandal. The subsidiary of Hypo real Estate ran into trouble in 2008, eventually prompting a bailout by the German government that is still the biggest in Irish banking history.
The regulator still won't reveal what action, if any, had been taken against Unicredit's IFSC subsidiary in 2007 when whistleblower banker Jonathan Sugarman, then its risk manager, shopped his bank to the Irish regulator after alleging that its liquidity reserves were 20pc below the legally required limit. Sugarman has since claimed the regulator's office did nothing about it.
Meantime, 16 executives from the parent company, including the CEO, are going on trial in Italy for cooking the books in that year.
So what did Mr Elderfield first make of Dublin when he arrived here from Bermuda back in 2009? Was there much cleaning up to do?..."

And in case you were wondering what took Mr. Elderfield to Bermuda in the first place, here is a quote from The Independent in June 2010:

"THE watchdog brought in to clean up Ireland's banks was the official responsible for supervising Northern Rock in the months before the collapsed bank applied for its first bailout.
The Irish Independent has learned that Financial Regulator Matthew Elderfield oversaw the regulation of Northern Rock in the three months to August 2007....

Monday, 27 August 2012

Regulator is silent over action taken on Unicredit complaint - today's Irish Independent

By Mark Keenan
Monday August 27 2012

THE Financial Regulator has refused to reveal what action has been taken in regard to a serious complaint of liquidity irregularities made to his office in 2007 by a whistle-blowing former banker regarding Unicredit Bank Ireland.

It was alleged that the regulator received details that Unicredit Bank Ireland, an offshoot of Italy's biggest bank, had been operating in the IFSC with liquidity levels vastly below what was required by law. In addition, Jonathan Sugarman, a former executive with Unicredit Bank Ireland, has consistently claimed that the Irish regulator's office took no action regarding his complaint. Mr Sugarman was appointed risk manager for Unicredit Bank Ireland back in 2007 when it had an operation worth $50bn (€39.94bn) based in Dublin's IFSC.

Upon assuming the new position, Mr Sugarman claimed to have noticed serious irregularities in the bank's liquidity levels. The bank was required by law to keep assets and cash in reserve equivalent to 90pc of its liabilities. Mr Sugarman says he believed Unicredit was operating in Dublin with cover of just 70pc. Having called in independent consultants to confirm his fears, he then claims to have raised the matter with his superior at the bank. He says he was told "not to worry."

However, Mr Sugarman resigned his position and claims he then approached the Irish Financial Regulator's office in late 2007 to report the irregularities -- as required by law.


He claims the Irish regulator did nothing about his complaint.

Alessandro Profumo, who was CEO of the accused bank's parent company, Unicredit -- from 1997 to 2010 and during the period covered by Mr Sugarman's complaint -- is now preparing to go on trial for fraud in Italy on 
October 1.

Mr Profumo and 16 past and present employees of Unicredit will have to answer charges that they had cooked the books to defraud the Italian taxpayer out of €245m taxes on profits.
The charges relate directly to practices during the period 2007 to 2008.

When contacted on this matter, the Financial Regulator Matthew Elderfield said in a statement that: "The Central Bank met with Mr Sugarman and received some information from him and took the appropriate action."
When the Irish Independent enquired about what the regulator meant by "appropriate action", the regulator's office said there would be no more correspondence on the matter.

Late last year investigators from Australia's state-run ABC TV network also contacted the Irish regulator's office to ask what had come of Mr Sugarman's complaint against Unicredit Ireland. In a reply late last year, ABC says it received a letter from the Irish Financial Regulator's office to say that it was still examining the allegations first brought by Mr Sugarman.

Yesterday Fianna Fail's finance spokesman Michael McGrath said: "It is essential that the Irish Financial Regulator should account for how the complaint -- dating to late 2007 and relating to liquidity reserves -- has been dealt with."

Mr Sugarman could not be contacted by the Irish Independent.

Friday, 29 June 2012

Italian & French translations of Z.G. Herman's letter to the Financial Times

Thanks to my friends PP & MF, here are loose translations of Z.G. Herman's letter to the Financial Times of 18 June 2012. Please see my previous blog posting for the original text in English.

"Nei film di Hollywood le situazioni di crisi hanno quasi sempre un lieto fine e ne siamo fortemente impressi, in realtà per ottenere lo stesso risultato non siamo disposti a cambiare. Che cosa significa che in Grecia abbia vinto un partito o l’altro? Assolutamente niente. Devono ancora formare un governo, che ancora dovrà applicare effettivamente le misure necessarie (e non è ancora chiaro quali siano) soprattutto il popolo dovrà essere in grado di lavorare effettivamente con tali misure. Questo solo per la Grecia.
La Spagna è la prossima, poi l’Italia, quindi anche i paesi del Nord Europa senza parlare degli Stati Uniti, Cina, India, Australia e tanti altri. Perché?
Perché quello che stiamo "a guardare" non è una tragedia greca, nemmeno spagnola, neanche europea, il mondo intero è spinto con tenacia da un sistema che si basa sull'illusione di una costante crescita quantitativa economica in un sistema a circuito chiuso, che richiede sovrapproduzione e sovraconsumo basato su un aumento del debito. Creiamo bolle dopo bolle che cercano di ingannare il sistema, siamo governati da leggi naturali rigorose che non possono essere ingannate. Oggi sono state scoperte.
Siamo noi al centro di questo incubo di contesto globale, un sistema totalmente interconnesso, per farla breve: siamo tutti incatenati su una barca che affonda.
Qual’è la nostra prossima mossa? "

‘’Les catastrophes ont toujours une issue sans conséquences dans les films hollywoodiens et nous en sommes profondément imprégnés, dans la réalité pour obtenir le même résultat nous ne sommes pas disposés à changer. Que signifie la victoire d’un parti ou d’un autre en Grèce ? Absolument rien. Ils doivent encore former un gouvernement, qui devra ensuite appliquer les mesures nécessaires (il n’est pas encore clair lesquelles) le peuple devra surtout être en mesure de travailler effectivement avec de telles mesures. Cela seulement pour la Grèce.
L’Espagne suit, ensuite l’Italie, et même les pays du nord de l’Europe, sans mentionner les USA, la Chine, l’Inde, l’Australie et tous les autres. Pourquoi?
Parce que ce que nous sommes en train d’ « observer » n’est pas un drame grec, même pas espagnol, européen non plus. Le monde entier est entrainé avec force dans un système basé sur l’illusion d’une croissance économique en circuit fermé qui requiert surproduction et surconsommation avec une dette croissante. Nous créons bulle sur bulle voulant fausser le système mais ce dernier est basé sur des lois naturelles qui ne peuvent être ignorées. Nous les découvrons aujourd’hui.
Nous nous trouvons au centre de ce cauchemar, dans un système global, complètement interdépendant, pour résumer, nous sommes enchainés les uns aux autres sur un bateau en train de couler.
Que faire maintenant ?“ 

Saturday, 23 June 2012

An observation about the current state of the global financial mess

A friend of mine sent this on to me this week. I have no idea who the author of this letter to the Financial Times is, but I think his observations are thought provoking. Especially at a time when the papers are full with the calming voices of our 'Dear', but dangerously incompetent, leaders. Well said Mr. Z. G. Herman, whoever and wherever you are.

"We are so much brainwashed by Hollywood movies that we crave a happy ending every time there is a crisis situation, but we are not willing to change in order to get it.  What does it mean that certain parties won in Greece? Absolutely nothing.  They still have to form a government, that government still has to actually apply necessary measures (and it is still unclear what those are) and most importantly the public will need to be able to actually work through those measures.  And this is only Greece.
Spain is next, then Italy, then even the Northern European countries not to mention the US, China, India, Australia and everybody. Why?
Because what we are "watching" is not a Greek drama, not even Spanish, not even European.The whole world is stubbornly pushing on with a system that is based on the illusion of constant quantitative economic growth in a closed, finite system, requiring overproduction and over consumption based on increasing debt.  We blow bubbles after bubbles trying to cheat the system but we live among strict natural laws that cannot be cheated.  And today we were found out.
On top of all this false dream we also find ourselves in a global, totally interconnected system, in other words we are chained together on a sinking boat.
So what is our next move?"
          Published in the Financial Times, 18 June 2012.