At a Glance: Anglo investors ‘people of substance’

Former Anglo Irish Bank chairman Seán FitzPatrick at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court yesterday. Photograph: Collins Courts.

Former Anglo Irish Bank chairman Seán FitzPatrick at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court yesterday. Photograph: Collins Courts.

Sat, Mar 29, 2014, 01:00

Witnesses
Sgt Catharina Gunne, Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation

Natasha Mercer, former company secretary, Anglo Irish Bank


Snapshots

Yesterday the jury heard of the last of Se án FitzPatrick’s five interviews with gardaí in March 2010. In the interview, the bank’s former non-executive chairman described receiving a call from chief executive David Drumm while he was on holiday in France on July 9th 2008. This call – five days before the deal to unwind businessman Se án Quinn’s stake in the bank was executed – was the first he heard about the transaction, he said.

Mr FitzPatrick told gardaí he asked Mr Drumm whether the individual investors who were to buy Anglo shares as part of the deal were “people of substance” and was told they were. “What he said was I didn’t need to know their identities,” Mr FitzPatrick said. He was not surprised at this, as Mr Drumm said none of the individuals knew of the others’ identities and he was “keeping all that tight ”.

At Mr Drumm’s request, Mr FitzPatrick then called the bank’s other non-executive directors to apprise them of the transaction.

In his interview, given on March 19th, 2010, Mr FitzPatrick confirmed to gardaí that he attended a meeting with Mr Quinn after the Maple transaction went through. He said Mr Drumm and Mr Quinn had “a difficult relationship post the Maple transaction”. Mr Quinn had written a letter to the bank complaining about the deal, the court had heard previously. Mr Drumm’s relationship with Mr Quinn was “at bottom line” and they had “effectively fallen out”. Mr FitzPatrick told gardaí Mr Drumm thought he, Mr FitzPatrick, was the only person “able to talk to Mr Quinn”.

Gardaí suggested this meant Mr FitzPatrick did not “stick” to his non-executive role. He responded that the Maple deal was the biggest transaction undertaken by the bank and the bank needed someone to talk to Mr Quinn. They had met before, Mr FitzPatrick said, and it was “appropriate in the exceptional circumstances”. He said he was there to “mend” rather than negotiate. “My instructions were quite clear. Mend fences, do not negotiate,” he said.

Counsel for Mr FitzPatrick Michael O’Higgins SC put it to Sgt Gunne that his client had been much more direct in giving information than some of the other Anglo non-executive directors. The tenor of the non-executives’ testimony was “‘I might have got a call, then again, I might not have got a call’ or ‘Maybe I was told about lending, maybe I wasn’t’, ” counsel said. This “great vagueness” was “in stark contrast” to Mr FitzPatrick’s specific replies to Garda questions. Sgt Gunne agreed that Mr FitzPatrick answered all questions and was fully co-operative.

Ms Mercer told the court she didn’t become aware of the July 2008 unwind plan until after it was executed. She was informed by Anglo’s head of compliance, Fiachre O’Neill.

Ms Mercer said she was not aware, at the time they were written, that new loan facility letters were prepared for the so-called Maple 10 borrowers in October 2008 and backdated to the previous July. She became aware of these letters in January 2009. The witness said her understanding was that the letters changed the recourse from 25 per cent to zero, which would mean there was “a higher risk for the bank if the client were to default ”.

The trial is approaching its closing stages. Yesterday, Judge Martin Nolan told the jury that he expects it will be concluded by Friday, April 11th.