State introduced ’new case’ during trial, jury told

Trial of three former Anglo Irish Bank directors is told prosecutors lacked proof in relation to charges

Sat, Apr 12, 2014, 01:40

The prosecution introduced a “new case” during the trial of three former Anglo Irish Bank directors because they lacked proof in relation to the charges, the jury has been told.

In his closing speech, Patrick Gageby SC, for Willie McAteer, said the prosecution argued in its summing up that the whole scheme aimed at unwinding businessman Seán Quinn’s stake in Anglo was unlawful and involved a fraud on the market. “Nowhere in the charge sheet will you see any such assertion,” Mr Gageby said. The prosecution could have brought charges alleging that but it did not, he added. “There is not a secret 17th count saying this is a fraud on the market.”

Mr Gageby ventured a reason as to why the prosecution was arguing that the whole scheme was unlawful by pointing out that Tom Reid, a banker called as an expert witness by the prosecution, had offered “no criticism” of the lending to the Quinn children “because there is nothing to criticise in it”. The Quinn lending was on 100 per cent recourse and Anglo were “up to their oxters” in security for the loans because they in effect owned the Quinn Group “lock, stock and barrel”.

Mr Gageby said the prosecution was trying to put all the charges together in order to get over the problem of proof in relation to the Quinn children’s loans.


‘Spectacular gamble’
If the whole scheme was unlawful, he said, that would mean that even if the lending was minimal, it would still be unlawful. Yet one of the reasons the State argued the lending was unlawful was the scale of it.

Mr Gageby told the jury that his client would not be sitting in the dock except that Seán Quinn “did what he did”.” Neither Mr McAteer nor anyone close to him encouraged Mr Quinn’s betting, and the trial would not have happened had [Mr Quinn] “not done the spectacular gamble that he did.”

Mr Gageby said the “nub” of the 16 charges against his client was the lending to each of the borrowers – the Maple 10, the Quinn children and Patricia Quinn.

He told jurors the case was about the allegation that Mr McAteer breached his duty to ensure compliance. However, he asked, “what is the step that he left undone?”

Mr McAteer was not claiming ignorance or blaming anyone else. He passed instructions to Matt Moran, Anglo’s chief financial officer, in relation to executing the transaction. “It was not an instruction to do it at all costs or to do it without compliance,” Mr Gageby added. “I ask, when did Mr McAteer cut corners, dispense with things that had to be done? I don’t see it.”

Mr Gageby said one “oddity” of the case was that “so many roads lead back to Dame Street,” an apparent reference to the office of the Financial Regulator and the Central Bank. On the July 2008 scheme to unwind the Quinn position, Mr Gageby said the Financial Regulator was “manifestly aware” of lending to the Quinn family.