These days, the news is mostly about the financial crisis. Polish Radio talks about the governments efforts to help or repatriate unemployed Poles stranded in the UK. Romanian Radio discusses Italian vigilante patrols against immigrants, mostly Romanians.
But the most intriguing broadcast was from RTÉ. Like the rest of us, the Irish are having a bit of a problem with their banks. I had not even heard of the Anglo Irish Bank fraud, which they're now calling "Ireland's Enron". The Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation have now been called in.
As far as I can make out, Anglo Irish Bank, Ireland's third largest financial institution, nationalized in January after attempts to recapitalize it failed, apparently lent its own directors €255 million before it went bust. This may have been part of a larger scheme in which it lent ten unnamed customers €451 million to buy its own shares. Presumably this was in order to support the share price, which collapsed anyway. Insofar as the loans were secured by the shares, when the shares went to zero the loans were written off. €83 million of the loans were repaid, I'm guessing before that happened.
Ex-chairman of Anglo Irish Sean FitzPatrick was one of those who were lent money by the bank. FitzPatrick resigned in December after saying he had hid loans from the company. He and other former bankers are now likely to be questioned by the fraud squad.
Half a billion dollars, more or less. I guess these days, that sum's small enough to be lost in the noise.