Anglo case: Willie McAteer and John Bowe found guilty of conspiracy

Jury still deliberating in case of IL&P’s Peter Fitzpatrick and Denis Casey

John Bowe (left), former head of captial markets at Anglo Irish Bank and Willie McAteer, the bank’s former director of finance, have been guilty of conspiracy.

John Bowe (left), former head of captial markets at Anglo Irish Bank and Willie McAteer, the bank’s former director of finance, have been guilty of conspiracy.

 

Two former bankers with Anglo Irish Bank have been found guilty of criminal conspiracy in the longest trial in the history of the State.

Former head of capital markets John Bowe (52) from Glasnevin, Dublin, and former director of finance Willie McAteer (65) of Greenrath, Tipperary Town, Co Tipperary, were found guilty by a jury after almost 38 hours of deliberation.

Both men were remanded on continuing bail to Friday by Judge Martin Nolan. The jury will resume deliberations in relation to the two further defendants before the courts, both of whom are former executives with Irish Life and Permanent.

They are former director of finance Peter Fitzpatrick (63) of Convent Lane, Portmarnock, Dublin and former chief executive Denis Casey(56), from Raheny, Dublin. They both deny the charges.

All four men were charged with conspiring together and with others to mislead investors by setting up a €7.2 billion circular transaction scheme between March 1st and September 30th, 2008, to bolster Anglo’s balance sheet. The jury began hearing evidence in January and was down to eleven members after one jury-member became ill. The verdicts against the two former Anglo bankers was unanimous.

All four men denied the charges and said there had been no intention to defraud.

The jury began its deliberations on Tuesday, May 17th.

On Thursday afternoon, the jury foreman said it had reached a verdict in relation to two men and was making progress in relation to two others, but added that it thought its decisions in relation to one set of verdicts might impinge on its decisions in relation to others.

The jury were twice excused and twice recalled as Judge Nolan explained that it had to reach decisions to a standard of beyond reasonable doubt, and that the charges meant that each accused had to be found guilty separately and independently of conspiring with another person to commit a crime.

Although all four were mentioned in the charges against each accused, it was also possible that the jury could find that an accused had conspired with “others”, being persons not before the court.

At about 4.30pm, the jury returned with guilty verdicts in relation to McAteer and Bowe. Neither man reacted to the announcement and Judge Nolan remanded the two men on continuing bail to Friday.

Mc Ateer was one of the most senior figures in the bank at the time of the transactions behind the conspiracy conviction. The court has heard he has a pension which he shares with his wife and which pays €90,000 per annum.

The State’s case against the two men was that the only purpose of the transactions totalling €7.2 billion was to deceive investors and the public as to the financial health of Anglo Irish Bank.

“They take a vast amount of time and trouble and they amount to one large candy floss whose only conceivable purpose is to bolster up and artificially inflate the Anglo customer deposit. That is manifestly dishonest and was done with dishonest intent,” said Paul O’Higgins SC at the outset of the trial.

Anglo Irish Bank was one of the great success stories of the Celtic Tiger era but was nationalised in early 2009 against the backdrop of the collapse of the Irish property market and the international banking crisis. The bulk of the bank’s loans were hived off to the National Asset Management Agency, and the remainder of the bank, after an unsuccessful attempt to forge a new business from it, was eventually subsumed into the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, which is now in liquidation.