A round-up of today's other stories in brief...
Why Anglo’s former lawyers might have uneasy moments
THE RECENT charges brought against Seán FitzPatrick and two other former directors of Anglo Irish Bank must be leaving the bank’s former corporate lawyers, Matheson Ormsby Prentice (MOP), shifting uncomfortably in their offices on the south Dublin quays.
FitzPatrick and the other two, Willie McAteer and Pat Whelan, were charged with providing unlawful financial assistance as a result of the bank’s loans to six members of the family of Seán Quinn and the Maple 10 group of investors to buy shares in Anglo. The three men were charged with 16 offences under section 60 of the Companies Act, with one charge relating to each borrower.
MOP advised on the July 2008 transaction in which Quinn’s massive investment in the bank held through contracts for difference was unwound with six Quinn family members taking a stake of 15 per cent and the Maple 10 taking a 10 per cent shareholding.
A letter from MOP to the directors of Anglo on July 22nd, 2008, outlined the advice they gave on the transaction, although it contains no specific reference to Maple 10. It included advice given on “the acquisition by each of certain other, unrelated parties, of less than 3 per cent each (in aggregate 13.4 per cent) of the issued share capital of the bank”.
The letter says the firm advised Anglo on the basis of the information provided, that “on the basis that the lending to the Quinn shareholders was in all respects in the ordinary course of business of the bank and that the loans provided did not reduce the net assets of the bank, that the provision by the bank of loans for the purpose of the acquisitions of shares and the taking of security over the acquired shares did not constitute unlawful financial assistance contrary to the provisions of the Companies Acts 1963 to 2006.” One wonders if MOP has been looking over the information provided by Anglo and the advice the firm gave in return in light of recent developments.Full Tilt Poker incident highlights need to regulate gambling sector
THE SETTLEMENT between the US government, Irish-based Full Tilt Poker and its Isle of Man-headquartered rival, Poker Stars, draws a line under a long-running battle between the two companies and the federal authorities. Under the deal’s terms, Poker Stars will hand back $731 million to clients of Full Tilt in the US and around the world and acquire the company’s business and assets.
The agreement settles court proceedings against both online poker companies brought by US attorney Preet Bharara, who described the players whose funds were diverted as “victims”.
However, as part of the deal, neither company admitted any wrongdoing.
Bharara has been pursuing both businesses, their executives and a third rival, Absolute Poker, since early last year. His actions have presumably left the authorities looking a little red faced.
Full Tilt’s is effectively an Irish-based business: its main centre of operations is in Cherrywood in Dublin, where at one stage it employed about 700 people.
Last year, Bharara accused the company of making off with $430 million of clients’ funds, and said that its chief executive, Raymond Bitar, had been running a Ponzi scheme.
The question marks thrown over the company’s behaviour led to the loss of its UK licence.
Bitar himself pleaded not guilty to a number of fraud-related charges in a New York court last month.