Jury in Anglo trial to resume deliberations on Monday

Earlier court told everybody was ‘gloriously happy’ with deal to unwind Quinn stake in the bank


The jury in the trial of three former directors of Anglo Irish Bank will resume deliberations on Monday.

Judge Martin Nolan told them today it did not matter whether the three accused believed the share purchase scheme at the centre of the case was legal or illegal. The attitude of the financial regulator to it or his actions were also totally irrelevant, as was the involvement of investment banker’s Morgan Stanley.

Seán FitzPatrick (65) of Greystones, Co Wicklow; William McAteer (63) of Rathgar, Dublin; and Pat Whelan (51) of Malahide, Dublin, are charged with 10 counts of providing unlawful financial assistance to 10 individuals, the Maple 10, in July 2008 to buy shares in the bank, contrary to Section 60 of the Companies Act.

Mr McAteer and Mr Whelan are also charged with six counts of providing unlawful financial assistance to six members of the Quinn family.

The three men have pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The deal involved unwinding Mr Quinn’s holding in Anglo in July 2008, with businessmen known as the Maple 10 borrowing €45 million each to buy the shares underlying it and members of the Quinn family borrowing €170 million to buy shares.

Judge Nolan told the jury they had to decide if there had been lending in the case and if there was lending if it was in “the ordinary course of business”.

If it was not, they had to decide if all three men knew about the scheme and if they did know, did they take steps to stop it.

“You must decide if any of these three men are criminally culpable,” he said.

Before the jury retired, the registrar of the court carried out a lottery drawing the names of the 12 jurors who would consider the verdict from a drum.

There were 14 members on the jury, with the additional jurors having been sworn in because of the length of the trial.

The judge thanked the two jurors who were not chosen to consider the verdict and said he was sorry to see them go. He exempted them from service for 10 years.

He told the jury they would be given a voluminous amount of exhibits and they should go through them and examine them.

The jury retired at 3.12pm.

Earlier the court was told “everybody was gloriously happy” with the deal to unwind businessman Sean Quinn’s holding in Anglo Irish Bank until “the climate changed” counsel for former chairman of the bank Sean FitzPatrick told a jury at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court this morning.

Michael O’Higgins SC compared the change of climate to “1916 in reverse” when those involved were first “spat upon” but then “became heroes”.

Anglo was happy, the financial regulator was “very, very happy” and the “domestic standing group”, which included the regulator and the department of finance, was “very, very happy”. Sean Quinn wasn’t happy - after share price rose, but maybe when it dropped again

But he said in light of subsequent events, with “viciousness and unfocussed anger”, the deal “came to be looked at in different light”.

The deal involved unwinding Mr Quinn’s holding in Anglo in July 2008, with businessmen known as the Maple 10 borrowing €45 million each to buy the shares underlying it and members of the Quinn family borrowing €170 million to buy shares.

Mr O’Higgins said it was unclear what the prosecution’s case was. Was it that they had “a ship holed below the water line” and they were “trying to stay afloat and doing their best” but there was inadequate communication and that could be visited on Mr FitzPatrick, or was it that these were “dodgy fellas” carrying out “nefarious activity” and this was not “people not with hand on heart doing their best” but was “something sinister”.

“If that is the case, how would Mr FitzPatrick, a non executive director in France on the phone, be expected to sniff it out and play detective?” Mr O’Hggins asked.

He said it took the State “years to put together” and it would be putting an “unreasonable burden” on Mr FitzPatrick to expect him to.

He also said the prosecution’s suggestion that the deal was a share support scheme was a “complete and utter red herring”.

He told the jury they could not conclude on any superficial analysis that because the share price went up afterwards it was indicative of something improper. There had been no evidence comparing the prices of other banks at the time, he said.

“You can’t literally say that because the transaction involved some trading in shares then ipso facto the case can be proved,” Mr O’Higgins said.

If it was a genuine loan then there was no cheat. There was no misleading the market because the shares were bought, the transactions and the buyers were real, they could have lost money and the loss crystallised.

“You are being tapped on your prejudices ladies and gentlemen, you are having your buttons pressed,” he said.

Closing statements are continuing in the trial.