Developer says Anglo approached him to say opportunity arisen

Gerard Gannon drew down €45m loan and bought 10 million shares which became worthless

Witness Niall Tuite at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court. Photograph: Collins Courts.

Witness Niall Tuite at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court. Photograph: Collins Courts.

Thu, Feb 13, 2014, 20:29

A building developer who was one of the so-called Maple Ten lenders has told the trial of three former Anglo Irish Bank executives that the bank approached him and said an opportunity had come up.

In July 2008 Gerard Gannon drew down a €45m loan and bought 10 million shares in the bank on the basis that he would only be personally liable for 25 per cent of the loan. He didn’t sell any and the shares became worthless when the bank was later nationalised.

Mr Gannon was giving evidence on day eight of the trial of Sean FitzPatrick (65), Willie McAteer (63) and Pat Whelan (51), who are alleged to have taken part in a plan to lend money to the Quinn family and the so called Maple Ten group of investors so that they could buy shares in the bank and guarantee the stability of the share price.

The three men have been charged at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court with 16 counts of providing unlawful financial assistance to 16 individuals in July 2008 to buy shares in the bank.

Mr Whelan has also been charged with being privy to the fraudulent alteration of loan facility letters to seven individuals in October 2008.

Mr FitzPatrick of Greystones, Co Wicklow, Mr McAteer of Rathgar, Dublin and Mr Whelan of Malahide, Dublin have pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Mr Gannon told the jury that in July 2008 his personal fortune was approaching €1 billion.

He said that in early to mid July, “Pat Whelan told me an opportunity had come up and would I be interested in meeting David Drumm (then CEO of the bank).”

He said he met the men and after five minutes of “chit chat” Mr Drumm asked him if he would be interested in buying shares.

“They said it was an opportunity because I was a good customer of the bank. It wasn’t a very long meeting, about 20 minutes,” said Mr Gannon.

He said there was no mention of any third parties and that the €45m would come with a personal recourse of 25 per cent.

“If anything happened I was to pay back 25 per cent. I was in for 25 per cent which I was quite happy with. I agreed there and then,” he said.

He said he understood the loan was for buying shares in Anglo and that he would give ten days notice in advance of selling the shares on.

When the bank was nationalised Mr Gannon hadn’t sold any of his shares.

He told Brendan Grehan SC, defending Mr Whelan: “I always found all people who worked in Anglo to be honest and truthful the same as I like to think of myself”.

A second member of the Maple Ten, property investor Gerard Maguire, told the court that he was on holidays in Nice, France on July 10th when he spoke to Pat Whelan on the telephone.

He said Mr Whelan told him the bank’s shares were coming under pressure and were under attack from hedge funds.