Thank You, Mr Sugarman



From top: Jonathan Sugarman; Tony Groves

Further to today’s appearance by banking whistleblower Jonathan Sugarman before the Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform…

Tony Groves writes:

I’ve met Jonathan Sugarman, had pints with Jonathan Sugarman. I’ve laughed and even argued with Jonathan Sugarman.

Now today, much to chagrin of Official Ireland, everyone else has gotten to meet Jonathan Sugarman.

His story is one we all kind of knew, but never really paid too much heed. To focus on it would only lead to more issues. So we all engage in a collective sigh and utter “sure we are where we are”.

You see, Jonathan Sugarman exposes an open sore on the face of our country. It is widely known that the banks were engaged in systemic fraud that Bernie Madoff would be proud of.

The €7 Billion Anglo/Irish Life & Permanent fraud was not only known about by the “Regulator” and the Central Bank, it had the tacit approval of both.

The Liquidity Breaches were systemic. The Banks played roulette with balance sheets, knowing the Central Bank was asleep at the spinning wheel.

But rather than admit this, we swallowed the “We all partied” pill of austerity. We let our open sore fester for 8 years and decided to pin the entire thing on a “few bad apples” in a Banking Inquiry for Dummies.

A few bad apples! Really, are we meant to be placated, believe that everything is reformed (ignore that Ireland absorbed 42% of the total EU bank debt) and move on?

If we can get so irate over the (estimated) €3 billion wasted on the establishment of the lame duck utility Irish Water can we please get a little irate over a debt burden we inherited via fraudulent activity and (at best) incompetent regulation?

A few bad apples, really? When Jonathan Sugarman reported systemic breaches of Unicredits bank liquidity ratio in 2007 he was told “it’s complicated” in lieu of saying “we are aware of the breaches but we don’t care”.

When he resigned and the breaches of liquidity were shown to be endemic and systemic he was threatened with legal action, if he went public with his story.

Anyone who expressed an interest in helping Mr Sugarman was accused of not “wearing the green jersey”.

The country, in full financial meltdown, was told to focus on the solutions rather than on the cause. We were told “we all partied” and that only by accepting collective blame could we get out of the mess.

Mr Sugarman was denied the opportunity to explain why this happened and how it could be prevented. The hydra headed monster of financial and political bureaucracy was unleashed on a man who was proven right in the fullness of time. A few bad apples, indeed.

Do you remember (or have you heard the story of) the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, where American Black Athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos stood on the podium, black gloved fist raised, during the 200mtr medal presentation? It is a tale of solidarity and defiance. The fist was a symbol of Black Power and (in Tommie Smiths own words) “a human rights salute”.

More often than not, lost in the telling of the tale is the white sprinter between the two black athletes. Peter Norman, an Australian runner, had finished second that day. It was in fact, Peter Norman who had suggested they wear one glove each, while he himself wore Human Rights badges.

Peter Norman returned to Australia an ostracised and maligned silver medallist. His stand meant the end of his Olympic career. He went on to qualify for the next Olympics no fewer than 13 times. He was not picked once. His show of solidarity with the Human Rights campaign was used to expunge his achievements and deny him any recognition of his talents.

He didn’t live to receive the apology issued by the Australian parliament in 2012. He died in 2006, Smith and Carlos pallbearers at his funeral. He wasn’t around to be “recognised for his efforts in furthering racial equality”. He simply did the right thing and paid for it.

Peter Norman did the right thing. Jonathan Sugarman did the right thing as well. But he remains ostracised and maligned. As Churchill was reported to have said; “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it”.

We had the banking inquiry, we never invited Jonathan Sugarman along to speak. A “few bad apples” didn’t want you to hear what he had to say.

Today Jonathan Sugarman told Official Ireland that even after 10 years of exile he is unbroken.

He asked why the Laws weren’t used to jail people in breaches of banking licences in a country that has jailed people for television license breaches.

He was right in 2007, he was right today.

Jonathan, I’ll meet you for a pint later. Tonight’s on me. You earned it.

Tony Groves is a full-time financial consultant and part-time commentator. With over 18 years experience in the financial industry and a keen interest in politics, history and “being ornery”, he has published one book and writes regularly at Trickstersworld

Earlier: Watch Jonathan

I Have No Means. Thanks To Friends I Can Feed Myself




Jonathan Sugarman (left) and Tony Groves outside The Gravediggers pub, Glasnevin, Dublin 9 after wetting their whistles.


Suit yourselves.

Pic via Tony

60 thoughts on “Thank You, Mr Sugarman

    1. Niall

      Well, if they ever make a movie about the Irish Banking fupp Ups, Michael Fassbender can play Jonathan Sugarman…

  1. Mickey Twopints

    How would a man contact Tony? No sign of any contact details on the blog. I’d like to buy Mr. Sugarman a pint or three myself!

  2. rotide

    While Norman certainly (shamefully) suffered greatly for his part in the salute, He was never actually punished by the the AIOC apart from a caution from the offical onsite the next day. The Australian IOC also contend that he didn’t actually meet the qualification criteria for selection in the 72 olympics as he only came third in the national championships in a sub par time.

    1. Tony Groves

      Blatant nonsense, you’ve outdone yourself. He received a posthumous apology that acknowledged “the wrong done by Australia in failing to send him to the Olympics, despite repeatedly qualifying”.
      It’s very low smearing a dead man. Shame on you.

      1. MoyestWithExcitement

        Bootlickers always side with authority. This is pathological stuff from rotide though.

      2. rotide

        Yes, The apology covered a lot of ground and the AIOC disputes the section regarding the 72 olympics. Pretty simple really and not nonsense.

        Nothing I wrote above is smearing anyone. Where did you fish that out of?

        For examples of smearing, try any obituary piece on these pages.

    2. Percival

      So Rotide, rather than man up and just come and say you don’t like Sugarman exposing the dirty dealings of your cartel mates, you choose instead to try and undermine the analogy.

      You’re a sad little sack.

    3. realPolithicks

      Lol, is there anything that you wingnuts won’t try to excuse and explain away. Do you have any opinion on how Mr Sugarman has been treated?

    4. rotide

      As even the most casual reader might have noticed, I was not commenting on Mr Sugarman’s testimony in any way so the attack dogs can get back in the kennels.

      1. Tony Groves

        I never mind your whataboutery, or deflections. I even get a laugh from your criticisms of me and my writing. But attacking a dead man is deplorable.

          1. MoyestWithExcitement

            I don’t know if you’re hoping people will not pick up on the subtext of what you wrote or if you sinply don’t understand what you said yourself.

            “The Australian IOC also contend that he didn’t actually meet the qualification criteria for selection in the 72 olympics as he only came third in the national championships in a sub par time.”

            That’s you effectively calling a dead man a liar.

          2. MoyestWithExcitement

            See the word ‘disputed’ there, rotide? Do you know what that word means? It means that two (or more) parties are in disagreement over something, a course of past events in this instance. You have chosen to take the side of the big state organisation over the dead man they persecuted because you have to put small people down to make yourself feel big.

        1. Ratatattat

          It’s outrageous that Broadsheet allows you to publish such frankly worthless articles and then gives you a platform for personally insulting a person who points out flaws in them. For shame Broadsheet and go back under your rock Tony. Your writing is also rubbish by the way.

          1. Robert Flanagan

            What’s truly outrageous is that people like you and Rotide attempt to deride any article that questions the actions of the Fine Gael Fianna Fail Duplicitous Party. Any. It doesn’t seem to matter what the subject is (and attacking the veracity of subtext is wonderfully revealing of your abject desperation).
            It’s almost as if you were being paid to do this.
            Tony’s article is excellent, by the way. Clear, easily absorbed. On point. Works for me. But then I’m not looking to find fault with it, am I?

          1. jusayinlike

            Editor/Rotide mincing his words like spicer yesterday..

            Hang on I’ll getcha a JCB editor..

        1. rotide

          I have no problem with people disagreeing with me, but calling me a wingnut and talking about something I didn’t mention shows you up.

    5. Deluded

      Norman ran a qualifying time on 13 occasions, and was ranked fifth in the world at the time of the Munich Games in 1972.
      He was not selected. Because of one race.
      While injured. That he could easily have recovered from in time for the Olympics.
      If he had won the Nationals then it would have been impossible not to select him. I’m labouring the point, I know.

      There’s a lot of stuff on-line about Australia’s overt racism and the constant demand that Norman renounce the protestors.
      Most Australian papers use the word “blacklisted” (haha) to describe his treatment.

      He struggled to find work- he had a job in a gym for a while before going back to being a butcher.

      He was the only Australian Olympian omitted from the VIP lap of honour at the 2000 Sydney games, in fact it was the US delegation that flew him to Sydney and brought him to dinners and events. (This link covers most of these points-

      That sounds like “punished” to me.

      1. rotide

        Thank you for actually taking the time to write an actual argument rather than just bash away on your keyboard in a defensive rage like certain others.

        As I said, I greatly admire those three men. I don’t argue that Norman was treated shamefully. I also don’t argue his subsequent treatment by the AIOC was shabby particularly at their home olympcs. When I said punished, I meant censured for his actions at the time.

        There’s no doubt he ran qualifying times but the AIOC stance is that he didn’t qualify at the actual qualifiers. This isn’t unusual. Every Olympics there are Americans who should be shoo-in’s for medals at the games but don’t qualify because they didn’t perform at the national trials.

        I don’t know enough about the AIOC’s qualifying standards in the late 60’s to know if they allowed exceptions for someone who ran the qualifying time 3 times (I can only find 3, It may have been 13, but there only seems to be records for 3) outside of the national qualifier but it appears there wasn’t. They had been happy enough to send him to the Pan Pacific Games in 1969 and the Commonwealth games in 1970.

  3. sugar

    I hope Jonathan Sugarman loses all the hanger- ons and takes the credit due to him and him alone. Everyone now will have a story about Jonathan.
    Sorry Tony .This post is just so clichéd.

    1. Tony Groves

      Won’t disagree with you on the writing. I’m all cliche, all the time. But you are Wrong about the hanger-ons. Luke Flanagan and Diarmuid O’Flynn worked tirelessly to help JS.
      There was no Bandwagon Jumping in 10 years of exile.

      1. mildred st. meadowlark

        I like your articles, as I’ve said before, even if I don’t agree with your metaphor/message sometimes. I like the tone, and the direction, stylistically, that you’re headed in. It’s a case of honing your craft, so to speak.

        That said, this particular thread is a mess. Don’t give up. You’ll upset/offend/trigger someone no matter what you write.

          1. realPolithicks

            If I can make one suggestion to you Tony it’s that you shouldn’t feel the need to respond to all of the comments from the right wing apologists. Some of these people will disagree with you no matter what you say..

  4. Michael Fish

    Sugarman deserves a substantial payment for damages over all of the years that he has been ignored and pilloried by the gutless authorities who should have seen that he had a paid position preferably in government seeing that regulations were observed.. He had earned it many times over. I will gladly make a donation to any on line fundraising effort. The response should be global as were the consequences of his honesty.

  5. nellyb

    Watched Betting on Zero last night, not dissimilar story: man takes on status quo, turns his own against him, but kind of wins in the end – FTC takes action. Both, Sugarman and Ackman have enourmous cojones, but the Ackman’s ones are padded with piles of greens. And what he does with it is beautiful.

  6. gringo

    Mr Sugarman should be careful. The banking cartel is all powerful, and its capacity for evil knows no bounds.

  7. bossman

    Remember the time when the paid, online party hacks shut down arguments by asking people to point out the specific law the bankers actually broke. Well FF/FG there ye go it couldn’t be any clearer for ye.

    1. Sheik Yahbouti

      I remember – it was one of the reasons I got banned from two fora – didn’t change, didn’t go back.

  8. Zena

    Great picture of Jonathan and Tony, genuine smiles from two decent, honest and impressive men. Shame there aren’t more of your calibre running the country. Keep smiling.

  9. Brian Downey

    Our poor wee country held to ransome by governments who stood hand in glove with those who systematically robbed us and left the man in the street to foot the bill.God help us,we seem to be a nation run by cute Hoors where decent men like Sugarman and McCabe are vilified by those who should know better and do better.Brian.

  10. Robert Flanagan


    There is nothing “inchoate” about my rage. I can see, and have witnessed for a long time now, what FF & FG are doing to our country. I was there when MSM gloated about the helicopters carrying property developers circled the “Galway Tent,” waiting for an opportunity to land. I was there when Cowan and Lenihan signed the bank guarantee. A State guarantee that promised to pay the gambling debs of those developers and the corrupt bankers who colluded with them – up to four hundred and forty thousand million euro. In a country with a population of just over four million.
    We were lucky. we “only had to pay for sixty to one hundred thousand million. But our grandchildren will still pay off some of that debt.
    That’s what your beloved masters did to this country.
    Do I worship at the alter of Mick Wallace? Pfftt! The man has his faults. One of which is not exposing the corruption at the heart of our political system. The same goes for Luke Flanagan.
    The policies that you worship – the policies of Fine Gael, inherited from Fianna Fail, are all about supporting this odious corruption.
    Coveney bleats endlessly about “not signing into law any legislation that would leave us open to fines from the EU,” wilfully ignoring the continuing fines that we Irish taxpayers pay, year on year, because of the illegal implementation of VRT.
    But then, Fine Gael are masters of “Don’t look at what I do. Listen to what I say!”
    As far as “persuade middle ground people round to your point of view with well reasoned argument”? People are rarely persuaded to change life long beliefs based on what they read in the comments section of an online newspaper. Jonathan has been very persuasive in unearthing the malice within Irish banking, and the odious duplicity of State agencies. He doesn’t need my help in doing so. Tony, likewise, presented his article in an open and thoughtful manner.
    And the shills immediately crawl from the woodwork – and attack his writing style! How pathetic is that? You are not questioning what he says, because he is repeating Jonathan’s evidence, which is a matter of public record, so you and your co shills deride the article because of semantics and alleged cliche. You expose your solicitous desperation when you do so.
    Your attempt to portray anybody who does not support the egregious policies of Fine Gael as “left wing muppets” is risible.
    Incidentally, Jonathan laid bare the festering malaise in the banking sector, which led to we taxpayers footing the bill for the gambling debts of the super rich. Do you question the veracity of his evidence? If so, do you have evidence to the contrary? I’d love to see it. I won’t hold my breath.

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