Fraud squad raids offices of Anglo Irish Bank

Irish police staged a raid yesterday on the headquarters of the controversial Anglo Irish Bank, which has been at the centre of a series of allegations and revelations over recent months. The bank was nationalised last month in an as yet unsuccessful attempt to restore stability to the Irish financial system.

In the Irish Parliament yesterday, the Taoiseach, Brian Cowen, said the case would be "conducted and concluded and pursued vehemently and vigorously in the shortest possible time-frame".

Dozens of police moved in after search warrants were obtained by the Bureau of Fraud Investigation. Officers remained for much of the day on the premises, which are at a prestige location on Dublin's St Stephen's Green.

Examinations are expected to take place of records which are on paper and in computers. No indication has yet been given of whether arrests might follow.

The bank has been the focus of public and political anger as a series of questionable transactions, involving millions and in some cases billions, of euros have come to light.

Anglo Irish's former chairman, Sean FitzPatrick, and other bank bosses have resigned their positions. Mr FitzPatrick has refused to appear before a parliamentary committee to be questioned about his behaviour.

The government said it had been advised against naming 10 individuals who were part of a "golden circle" of wealthy Irish businessmen who received multimillion-euro loans from Anglo Irish which they invested in its shares. But a clamour persists for them to do so.

The government has struggled to cope with a severe downturn which has led to many public protests. On Saturday, an estimated 100,000 people marched in Dublin city centre, many of them condemning Irish banks' behaviour.

Government minister Noel Dempsey called those involved in wrongdoing at Anglo Irish as guilty of "economic treason". He said: "You have to collect the evidence. It has to be investigated thoroughly and I and my colleagues want to see the people responsible pay for that."

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