Former Anglo Irish Bank executives to stand trial over financial irregularities

Tue, Oct 9, 2012, 01:00

EX-ANGLO IRISH Bank chairman and chief executive Seán FitzPatrick and two former colleagues have been returned for trial in connection with financial irregularities at the bank.

The 64-year-old, as well as former Anglo finance director Willie McAteer and the bank’s former managing director for Ireland, Patrick Whelan, had been charged in July.

They are to go on trial accused of unlawfully helping to back a group of investors – including members of Seán Quinn’s family – to buy shares in the financial institution in 2008. The three men were charged this summer following a 3½-year investigation by detectives from the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation attached to the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) into alleged financial irregularities at the failed bank.

Mr FitzPatrick, a multimillionaire, with an address at Camaderry, Whitshed Road, Greystones, Co Wicklow, stepped down in December 2008.

Anglo was subsequently nationalised and rebranded as the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC) with its collapse costing Irish taxpayers about €30 billion.

The charges allege that before it was nationalised, the three men permitted the bank to “give unlawful financial assistance” to 16 named individuals for the purpose of, or in connection with, a purchase by the same people of shares in the then Anglo Irish Bank Corporation Plc.

It is claimed the alleged unlawful financial help to buy shares was given between July 10th and July 17th, 2008, to 15 people – including the so-called Maple Ten group of Irish Investors and several members of Seán Quinn’s family – and from July 17th until July 30th, of the same year, to Patricia Quinn, wife of now bankrupt Seán Quinn.

Among the names on the charges is Seán Quinn jnr, who was jailed in July by the High Court for contempt of court for hiding €500 million of property assets from Anglo, now IBRC.

Also included in the names of people who allegedly received financial assistance to buy shares in the bank are: Colette Marie Quinn, Aoife Quinn, Ciara Quinn, Brenda Quinn, property developer Patrick McKillen, Séamus Ross, Brian O’Farrell, John McCabe, Gerard Maguire, Patrick Kearney, Gerard Gannon, Gerard Conlon, Seán Reilly and Joseph O’Reilly.

The three former bank chiefs, who have not yet indicated how they will plead, appeared again at Dublin District Court yesterday.

State solicitor Jane Farrell told Judge Cormac Dunne that the books of evidence were ready to be served on each defendant. Behind Ms Farrell were boxes packed with black hardback folders containing copies of the State’s evidence. Fraud squad detectives then served the books of evidence, three boxes per defendant.

Mr FitzPatrick sat in the middle of the defendants’ bench with his arms folded. Mr Whelan sat on his left and Mr McAteer on his right.

Judge Dunne was told that the DPP had consented to them being sent forward for trial on 16 charges each, to the present term of Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

They stood up as the judge warned them that if they intended to rely on alibis in their defence, they must notify the State and furnish details to prosecution within 14 days. They answered “yes” when asked if they understood.

The judge then sent the three men forward for trial. They left the court but returned a few minutes later to confirm that they had signed their bail bonds.

Their case will next be listed for mention at the Circuit Court’s present term, which ends in December. However, it is likely that it could take several more months before the trial starts.

Seán FitzPatrick made “no comment“ when charged by a fraud squad detective in July; his two ex-colleagues had no reply when the same charges were put to them.

Bail terms had been set earlier. Mr FitzPatrick’s sister Joyce O’Connor stood bail for him in the sum of €10,000. He has to sign on every Wednesday at Irishtown Garda station in Dublin, reside at his current address and give gardaí 48 hours’ notice if he intends to change address or leave the State. The signing-on condition is to be suspended during periods when the ex-Anglo boss is out of the jurisdiction.

Mr McAteer“s wife, Maria, was allowed to stand bail for him in the sum of €10,000. The 61-year-old former Anglo finance director, with an address at Auburn Villas, Rathgar, south Dublin, was earlier ordered to “surrender his passport for the duration of any proceedings” and he must give gardaí 48 hours notice if he intends to change his address.

Mr Whelan (50), with an address at Rachra, Coast Road, Malahide, north Dublin, has been ordered to sign every Sunday at Malahide Garda station, to reside at his north Dublin home and to give gardaí 48 hours’ notice of any change of address or plans to leave the State. The signing-on condition has been suspended when he is out of the country. His wife, Sharon, is acting as a bail person for him in the sum of €10,000.

The judge told them, and their independent sureties, that “the bail conditions that have sustained up to now continue until the end of your trial”.