Anglo jury warned their job is not to ‘satisfy mob’
Trial of Seán FitzPatrick, William McAteer and Pat Whelan drawing to a close at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court
Pat Whelan (51) of Malahide, Dublin, William McAteer (63) of Rathgar, Dublin and Sean Fitzpatrick (65) of Greystones, Co Wicklow. Pat Whelan (51) of Malahide, Dublin, William McAteer (63) of Rathgar, Dublin and Sean Fitzpatrick (65) of Greystones, Co Wicklow.
The jury in the trial of three former executives of Anglo Irish Bank has been told its job is not to “satisfy the baying for blood of the mob”.
Brendan Grehan SC was delivering his closing speech to the jury in defence of Pat Whelan, former Head of Lending in Anglo.
Seán FitzPatrick (65) of Greystones, Co Wicklow; William McAteer (63) of Rathgar, Dublin; and Mr 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.
Mr Grehan told the jury that there is nobody in this country that has not been affected by the collapse in the banks. He referred to wage cuts, the loss of increments and the things that “really get people angry” like the couple of hours less of a Special Needs Assistant for a child or help for a parent at home.
But he insisted the case was not about the collapse of the banks or about seeing the three men in the dock as a way of “getting vengeance”. Mr Grehan said someone told him the other day that a spectator had come into the court, and having watched the proceedings, said “Give them a fair trial and then hang them.”
“You are not spectators, ladies and gentlemen. It is vital that you divorce yourself from that kind of thinking,” cautioned Mr Grehan. “You are not here to satisfy the baying for blood of the mob.” Mr Grehan said the case was about “ a provision of company law which has been on our statute books since 1963”.
He said that’s what the jury must focus on, devoid of the pressures that may come on them from outside the courtroom to produce “a certain verdict”.
He said great care had been taken while choosing the jury to ensure they were persons who could be impartial.
Earlier, the jury at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court was told that everything about the loans at the centre of a trial against the three men was “topsy-turvy” and “spectacularly not in the ordinary course of business”. Paul O’Higgins SC, for the prosecution, said a lot of what was put out in documents for the loans was “bogus”. This loan was was one for which the very purpose of Section 60 of the Companies Act exists, he said.
Businessman Sean Quinn had holdings in Anglo which were of concern to the bank and in July 2008, a deal was developed to unwind the holding. The Maple 10 businessmen borrowed €45 million each to buy shares underlying the holding and members of the Quinn family borrowed almost €170 million to buy shares.
Mr O’Higgins said almost everything about this scheme made it “a scheme obviously and spectacularly not in the ordinary course of business”.
Documents were dated on the wrong days or signed “scarcely with regard to date” and loans were committed to “long before the credit committee supposedly considered them”.
The loans really weren’t for the benefit of borrowers they were for the benefit of the bank to try and “shore up anticipated problems if there was a sudden unwind” of the Quinn holding in the bank .
Mr O’Higgins said it didn’t end there, there was an effort “to make it look like everything was done properly”.
He also said some of the Maple 10 scarcely looked at the the documents they signed and seemed to have taken no pause.
Developer Séamus Ross “was so worried about the pyrite people he was going to help” he couldn’t remember if he signed the loan for €60 million, Mr O’Higgins said.
He said Mr Ross was worth “north of one billion” and it was amazing how he got to where he got to, given he could not tell the difference between two documents put before him in court.
If Mr Ross was telling the truth, it would probably be worth following him around Dublin because if he dropped €1 million out of his pocket he might forget he did, or if he remembered “he’s such a nice guy he might let you keep it”.
He asked the jury if the speed with which all of the Maple 10 agreed to the loans suggested “the ordinary course of business”.
The case continues.