Ex-Anglo director denies key role in Quinn deal

McAteer told gardaí ‘not instrumental’ in lending funds to Maple 10 businessmen

The court had heard, by July 2008, Seán Quinn’s contracts for difference – investment products based on share value – involved more than 28 per cent of the bank’s shares. Photograph: Frank Miller

The court had heard, by July 2008, Seán Quinn’s contracts for difference – investment products based on share value – involved more than 28 per cent of the bank’s shares. Photograph: Frank Miller

Thu, Mar 27, 2014, 01:00

FIONA GARTLAND


William McAteer, the former director of finance at Anglo Irish Bank, told gardaí he “was not instrumental” in a deal to unwind businessman Seán Quinn’s holding in Anglo Irish Bank in July 2008, the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard yesterday.

In a Garda interview in November 2011, Mr McAteer denied he was an integral part of the plan to dispose of Mr Quinn’s holdings, that he helped to orchestrate the plan, and that he was aware at all times of the details of the plan.

His interviews with gardaí at Irishtown Garda Station in 2010 and 2011 were read into the record by Paul O’Higgins SC, for the prosecution, and confirmed by Detective Sergeant Glenn MacKessy and Detective Sergeant Michael Prendergast.

Mr McAteer (63) of Rathgar, Dublin; Seán FitzPatrick (65) of Greystones, Co Wicklow and Pat Whelan (51) of Malahide, Dublin, have been charged with 16 counts of providing unlawful financial assistance to 16 individuals in July 2008 to buy shares in the bank, contrary to section 60 of the Companies Act.

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

All three men have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The court had heard, by July 2008, Mr Quinn’s contracts for difference (CFDs) – investment products based on share value – involved more than 28 per cent of the bank’s shares.

As part of a deal to unwind them, the Maple 10 businessmen borrowed €45 million each from Anglo to buy 1 per cent of the bank’s shares and the Quinn children borrowed €170 million to buy almost 15 per cent of the shares.

The unwinding deal was carried out in the week of July 14th, 2008.

In his interview with gardaí, Mr McAteer said he could not remember if he was in his office on July 14th. He may have been on holiday, he said.

He was taken through a series of emails by gardaí that were sent on and around that date to him and other individuals. They outlined the progress of the deal to unwind the CFDs, including one sent on July 14th that said “deal largely done”.

Mr O’Higgins highlighted that the tracking facility on the emails showed they had been received and opened. And he said gardaí had asked Mr McAteer if he opened them or if they could have been opened by anyone else.

Mr McAteer told gardaí he could have opened them on his Blackberry “that works some of the time” or they could have been opened by his secretary Emma Grist. He said she had permission to open all of his emails and would open them when he was not in the office. If she believed the matter was urgent, she would call him, Mr McAteer said.

He said he did not recall any of the emails.

Mr McAteer also told gardaí he “certainly had no involvement” in the lending to buy the Anglo shares. He said then chief executive of Anglo David Drumm had decided on the “candidates” to buy shares and it would have been the director of lending who dealt with the loans.

He agreed he did play a part in trying to find institutional buyers for the Quinn CFDs. He also said he was broadly aware of the unwind deal, but there were meetings and telephone calls he was not a party to.

Asked by gardaí if he had instructed others in Anglo to implement the unwind deal, he said he was sure he “instructed people to make sure it was properly executed”.

He said he was made aware of the identities of the Maple 10 and the terms of the lending to them sometime in July 2008.

He also told gardaí he could not recall a phone call made by Mr Drumm to then financial regulator Pat Neary while Mr Drumm and Mr McAteer and others were on a car journey from Abu Dhabi, where they had sought investors.

Mr McAteer told gardaí all he could remember was that it was a horrific journey and there had been a crash with “100 cars piled up”.

When asked by gardaí if he had anything to add, Mr McAteer said the Quinn CFD position was “unacceptable” and the financial regulator had been “very anxious” to get the holding unwound.

The case continues.