One Of Ireland's Biggest Banks Busted Fudging The Books? Nah! Busted Concealing Debt? Nah! Busted.. Cyprus Was Just The Preamble
Here come's the next bank surprise. This bank, which is still trading in the US/Ireland and is still accepting deposits and making loans, appears to have some pretty fishy underpinnings. For paid subcribers, I've posted another potentially "Cyprus'd" EU bank with shortable US/LSE traded shares/options for subscribers, reference EU Bank Capital Confusion, Part 2 - Malarkey (you may subscribe here). As was the case in my last post, if you have believe that the information below actually identifies a gross misrepresentation of fact, omission or outright fraud, simply contact the SEC and let them know that Reggie Middleton suggested they look into it. You can actually use this form to convery my message. Let's start by excerpting the history of the country in question from yesterday's post, "Global Banking Crisis - How & Why YOU Will Get "Cyprus'd" As This Bank Scrambled For Capital!!!".
Introduction and Background
In 2007 Ireland had significant cross border exposure to UK and US banks through derivatives and property products. As I warned in 2007, the real estate bubble in the the US/UK popped in 2008, sending pathogenic contagion straight through the Irish banking system. The entire banking system started collapsing. On February 15, 2008, Ireland took extraordinary measures (which we will explore in depth a little later on) to mitigate said collapse, measures that many a layperson would deem misleading, if not fraudulent. RBS (Royal Bank of Scotland, one of the largest financial institutions in the countries of Ireland and the UK) was effectively nationalized by the UK and a bad bank was formed to purchase bad debt/products from the Zombie Irish banks in exchange for government bonds, backed by a country that just simply couldn't afford it.
Following my warning in February of 2008, Lehman filed bankruptcy in September sending an additional set of contagion shock through Ireland and its banking system, causing Ireland to issues bonds and further indebt itself to save its Zombie banks – again! This time through blanket bank guarantees backed by the full faith of the government.
In September of 2010, a large swath of said government guarantees for the banks were about to expire. Reference this excerpt from the book “Zombie Banks: How Broken Banks and Debtor Nations Are Crippling the Global Economy”:
In September 2010, some of Ireland's government guarantees for bank debts were about to expire, which put U.S. Treasury officials on edge. If the guarantee wasn't renewed, the banks would likely default on their bonds, triggering the next event in line: a slew of credit default swap (CDS) contracts on Irish banks' debt. U.S. Treasury officials had reason to worry - the names backing those contracts were the largest U .S. banks, and they could end up paying billions in case of default. Any more weight on U.S. banks could be a tipping point to collapse. Treasury officials made inquiries to their counterparts at the Irish finance ministry asking about the course of action the country was planning to take and indicated their concern about possible default and its CDS repercussions. A year after having issued blanket guarantees on the banks' liabilities the Irish government once again didn't dare let the bank fail. Instead it ended up asking for financial assistance from the European Union (EU) and the International Monetary Fund (IIMF): the country had been pushed to the brink of collapse.
And now, on to the entity at hand...
Allied Irish Banks (AIB)
As you can see, AIB (Allied Irish Banks) is currently operational, taking deposits and making loans. It trades ADRs on the NSYE, having been delisted from the LSE and the Irish Stock Exchange after the Irish government nationaized it.
As per Wkikepedia:
AIB offers a full range of personal and corporate banking services. AIB Capital Markets is the division of the company that offers international banking and treasury operations. The bank also offers a range of general insurance products such as home, travel, and health insurance. It offers life assurance and pensions through its wholly owned subsidiary, Ark Life Assurance.
In December 2010 the Irish government took a majority stake in the bank. AIB shares are listed as an American Depositary Receipt (ADR) on the New York Stock Exchange, under the symbol AIB. AIB's shares were formerly traded on the Irish Stock Exchange and the London Stock Exchange, but its shares were delisted from these exchanges following its effective nationalisation. The remaining publicly traded shares of AIB are now listed on the Enterprise Securities Market of the Irish Stock Exchange.
Internationally, AIB operates mainly in the United Kingdom (as Allied Irish Bank (GB) and First Trust Bank in Northern Ireland), and Poland (as Bank Zachodni WBK SA(BZ-WBK)). In November 2010, it sold its 22.5% stake in M&T Bank in the United States. At the beginning of 2008 AIB entered the Latvian, Estonian and Lithuanian markets by acquiring AmCredit mortgage finance business from the Baltic – American Enterprise Fund.
It's obvious this was an error in judgement, as a matter of fact it was extremely ill timed - reference The Depression is Already Here for Some Members of Europe, and It Just Might Be Contagious!
... In 2009, Allied Irish Banks  accepted a 3.5 billion euro bailout from the government of the Republic of Ireland as a part of the Bank Recapitalisation scheme. By March 2011 the total sum of required bailout was expected to climb up to 13.3 billion euro.
On 30 September 2010, the Irish Government announced plans to use its National Pensions Reserve to inject €3.7 billion of capital into Allied Irish Banks, becoming the majority shareholder and effectivelynationalizing the bank.
AIB needed to raise additional capital due to increasing losses on bad loans incurred from the real estate bubble, and Irish Finance Minister Brian Lenihan stated that the bank was unable to attract sufficient interest from private investors. As part of the deal, Chairman Dan O'Connor agreed to quit the bank while managing director, Colm Doherty, announced he would leave before the end of the year after 13 months in the job.
In December 2010, the European Commission approved the plans, and the Government passed emergency legislation to allow the deal to take place without requiring the approval of existing shareholders. The High Court subsequently approved the deal on Dec 24 2010, allowing the Irish government to take a 49.9% stake in the bank, rising to 92.8% following disposal of the Polish subsidiary to Banco Santander.
AIB became the fourth of Ireland's "Big Six" financial institutions to be nationalized, following Anglo Irish Bank, Irish Nationwide, and EBS Building Society. AIB was delisted from the main market of the Irish Stock Exchange on 25 January 2011 and the NYSE on 26 August 2011
Credit Event occurred
The ISDA Determinations Committee, consisting of 15 USA and European banks, decided that a restructuring credit event occurred with respect to Allied Irish Banks on June 9, 2011
Hmmm.. A credit event occurred...
AIB has inccurred significant debt from which the underlying collateral has significantly diminished. This caused the need for even more capital and more borrowing. It also apparently caused it to change the wording in its annual statements regarding repos, potentially allowing it to conceal financial aid in the form of even more debt from another party. After all, when you borrow something it's a loan right, as in additional debt??? Below, you see a loophole for near unimited borrowing, and not a peep will show up in the financial reporting!
Of course, theres more... AIB Charge Discrepency
Definitions: Charge - The document evidencing mortgage security required by Crown Law (law derived from English law). A Frixed Charge refers to a defined set of assets and is usually registered. A Floating Charge refers to other assets which change from time to time (ie. cash, inventory, etc.), which become a Fixed Charge after a default.
The charge document below, which was registered with Ireland’s Company Registration Office (CRO), states that the charge is in respect of the Company’s participation in Target 2-Ireland. It is also in respect of ‘all present and future liabilities whatsoever’ of Allied Irish Bank Plc. (to the Central Bank and Financial Services Authority of Ireland or to the European Central Bank). The charge is over ‘Eligible Securities’.
Target2 is a European Union payment system. I believe it is misleading to indicate in the annual accounts that Target 2 has a bearing on the security that has been given.
In the short particulars section of the charge; the property charged to the Central Bank and Financial Services Authority is over ‘all rights, title, interest and benefit, present and future, of AIB Plc. in and to each of the Eligible Securities from time to time, where ‘ Eligible Securities’ means, at any time securities of such a class or description as may from time to time be designated by the ECB as ‘Eligible for Sale and /or Purchase, as the case may be.’ (Refer to actual CRO charge document below)
In the Irish version of the Bank’s annual Accounts (2008) and the SEC 20F (page 223 - 2) it states that the charge was placed in favour of the Central Bank and Financial Services Authority of Ireland over all of AIB’S ‘right, title, interest and benefit present and future in and to certain segregated securities.’
Using the description ‘certain segregated securities’ is completely different to the description all ‘eligible securities.’
It appears that AIB is stating that they have given ‘certain segregated securities’ as security to the ECB whereas the ECB actually decides which securities will be designated as ‘eligible’. The charge is in favor of the Central Bank and is over ‘all present and future liabilities whatsoever’ of AIB. This charge is a floating charge over repo agreements, aka Eligible Securities - securities that the graphic above demonstrates can go on ad nauseum and way beyond the entities prudent ability to repay, yet not appear on the balance sheet or in its regulatory reporting!!!. These securities have been purchased by the ECB through the repo agreements.
Thus, it appears as if this floating charge granted to the ECB is over assets that the ECB already owned. The floating charge was given to the ECB by AIB for emergency funding (emergency liquidity). Do you see a circular argument here? A potential Ponzi even???!!!! I warned my paying subscribers three years ago,Beware of the Potential Irish Ponzi Scheme!
Very important note: BoomBustBlogger JPM noted below in the comment sections the following...
First up, big fan of your work. One of the few people genuinely worth listening to these days. You have consistently had the quality dope on these dopes over these past few years.
However, as an Irishman, I would draw your attention to one slight anomaly in the above post. It relates to the image containing the extracted explanation of AIB's Gross Settlement Systems from its annual report alongisde a page from a CRO charge filing. As far as I can see, the extracted page from the CRO charge filing actually relates to a charge filed by that other "AIB", Anglo Irish Bank, not Allied Irish. If you look at the name of the lawyer on the filing, it comes from the (former) lawyers for Anglo, Eugene F Collins, not Allied Irish Bank's lawyers.
Correct me if I am wrong though.
Notwithstanding that minor aberation, I wholehearetedly agree with your general thesis; Irish banks are a complete shambles, and the increasing German intransigence toward sharing some of the burden (for whcih many German banks were also responsibile) bodes ill for creditors of all colours, classes and stripes.
Of course I hope it doesn't come to that for many friends of mine, but I fear you may (yet again) be on to something.
To follow on from my post above; it has occurred to me that perhaps the same lawyers were filing the same duplictious charges (as compared with the charges disclosed in the annual reports) on behalf of a number of their insolvent clients (relying on the nuanced cut and paste skills one learns in law school!!).
If that is so, my above post stands corrected.
While it's somewhat moot (given that the real issue is how likely it is that AIB will require further capital - very, given enough time and further, ahem, "credit crunches" (solvency blow-ups??)) , but perhaps, if you have a moment, you could clarify whehther that CRO filinig extract is in fact from a charge filed on behalf of allied Irish, not Anglo Irish?
Thanks, and keep up the great work!
An Irishman Watching On In Horror From Australia.
He happens to be absolutely right. I mistakenly put the charge from Ango Irish in with the annual accounts of Allied Irish. We already covered Anglo Irish Bank in Global Banking Crisis - How & Why YOU Will Get "Cyprus'd" As This Bank Scrambled For Capital!!! It's not as if I didn't have a valid point with Anglo Irish, as can be seen by the article that printed the day after my post - reference As If On Cue, BoomBustBlog Shenanigan Research Gets Real In Ireland, Why Aren't These Guys Knocking On My Door?:
The Irish Business Post announces senior bondholders will get wiped out. That's right, a 100% loss! Zilch! Zero! Nada! Now, that's investing. That's getting "Cyprus'd", plus some!!! From businesspost.ie: IBRC senior bondholders to be burned
Alas, an error is an error and I made one. It is sharp readers and subscribers such as the one above that make BoomBustBlog what it is today. He actually caught the error by recognizing the lawyer's name as representing the other bank, something the average investor or layperson would never catch.
Unfortunately, he is also correct in that this means very little difference in the grand scheme of things for even if this charge didn't exist, AIB is still likely over-encumbered and swimming in underwater borrowings - in my all so humble opinion. There's also the fact that AIB actually did enter into an all encompassing charge to save its ass, just like Anglo Irish did. There's a strong liklihood that AIB will end up just like that "other AIB" as well, except this time it may be depositors doing the recap in lieu of taxpayers through an equity buyout.
Yep, I made a boo-boo, but it means nothing for AIB, let's correct it here and make sure we get the laywers right this time around....
Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming...
These charge documents apparently have not been included in the recent ‘stress testing’ conducted by the European Banking Authority. By AIB's own admittance, they are not recognizing the borrowing of securities unless the are intended for resale to a third party. This was not the case in the previous year!!! If this is true, these assets can very well appear on the balance sheets of both the ECB and AIB.
The assets should not appear on AIB’s balance sheet as a negative pledge clause, which the ECB was granted, prohibits the bank from doing this, see details in charge document.
Now, let's suppose you buy all of that malarky above regarding charges, disclosure, borrowing not showing up on the balance sheet, etc. Knowing what Ireland had to go through to bail out its banks the first two times, and then needing to go to the ECB/IMF the third time, and knowing what Germany did to Cyprus and it's bank depositors/bondholders last week... I just want to ask you bank customers one question. Do 'ya feel lucky??? If I'm on to something with the research above (and to be honest, it looks awfully convincing) and Ireland's already bailed its banks twice, and had to go to the ECB after those bailouts because it was broke, then what happens when this bank needs more capital.
The way I see it, if Cyprus is the new template, than depositor funded recaps (read, they take your savings/checking account money to bail out the bank) are inevitable!
If you have believe that the information below actually identifies a gross misrepresentation of fact, omission or outright fraud, simply contact the SEC and let them know that Reggie Middleton suggested they look into it. You can actually use this form to convery my message.
For paid subcribers, I've posted another potentially "Cyprus'd" EU bank with shortable US/LSE traded shares/options for subscribers, reference EU Bank Capital Confusion, Part 2 - Malarkey (you may subscribe here). There's plenty more to come, featuring bigger and more shortable banks, and scandal reaching deep into the ECB itself. This is better than a cheap reality TV show with over endowed girls crawling over each other!
Here's that interest rate calculator from EU Bank Depositors: Your Mattress Is Starting To Look Awfully Attractive - Bank Risk, Reward & Compensation . It shows how much interest you should be getting in return for the banking risk that you are taking.