Judge Martin Nolan has told the jury that four former bankers accused of conspiracy to defraud in 2008 are entitled to a fair hearing and that the trial is no place for prejudice.
Four former executives from Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Life & Permanent (ILP) are alleged to have conspired to mislead investors about the true health of Anglo. Closing speeches have now ended in what is understood to be the longest running trial in Irish legal history.
Peter Fitzpatrick (63) of Convent Lane, Portmarnock, Dublin; Denis Casey (56), from Raheny, Dublin; John Bowe (52) from Glasnevin, Dublin and Willie McAteer (65) of Greenrath, Tipperary Town, Co Tipperary have all pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to 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.
At the end of day 74 of the trial Judge Martin Nolan began his charge by saying that the four accused are entitled to a fair trial. On Tuesday morning he will continue to outline the legal rules which apply after which the jury will begin deliberating.
Judge Nolan said: "Anglo is probably the most reviled institution in the State. That should play no part in your deliberations, they are entitled to a fair trial. You must do justice to these men."
Question of intent
Brendan Grehan SC, defending Mr Fitzpatrick, told the jurors that their eyes must have watered at the thought of getting their hands on someone who did something really evil regarding the banking crisis which caused misery to so many. But, he said, the indictment didn’t live up it’s billing.
He said that the prosecution had failed to produce any evidence that showed an intention on Mr Fitzpatrick’s part to defraud.
He said the State’s case against his client boils down to a single issue, the question of intent on the part of the former finance director for ILP. He said that the State’s case amounted to one of “come on, they must have known”.
“If there was evidence don’t you think they’d be shouting it form the roof tops? If there was a smoking gun the prosecution would be holding it up, like ‘exhibit a’,” counsel said.
Mr Grehan said that there is no evidence that anyone had stolen any money and said that no-one has €7.2 billion stashed away in a Cayman islands account. He said none of the defendants gained personally from the deal.
He said Mr Fitzpatrick’s motivation in authorising the deal was the “green jersey” agenda, the Financial Regulator’s request for Irish banks to support one another.
He said by September 2008 Anglo were desperate and went to ILP for assistance and ILP felt they couldn’t refuse to help. ILP agreed to a deal but imposed terms and conditions and Anglo simply ignored those, Mr Grehan said.
Michael O’Higgin SC, defending ILP’s former CEO Denis Casey, said that Anglo had duped his client by misrepresenting the €7.2bn deal in their accounts.
He said there was no evidence that Mr Casey ever foresaw any “skullduggery” on the part of Anglo. He said that his client didn’t know that Anglo would misrepresent or fictionalise for accounting purposes the billion euro deposits from ILP.
“Even if you don’t accept this or don’t believe it, but you think it could reasonably be true, you have to acquit,” he said.
He said that far from being a bright idea to bolster Anglo's customer deposits number "the actual transaction was daft" and said that "if David Drumm was the brightest and the best, I wouldn't like to see who wasn't".
He said it was daft because in September it was “nuclear war” in the finance world and Anglo were experiencing outflows of five billion euro in the week coming up to the end of that month.
“By September 30, customer deposits were yesterday’s chip paper. It was all loan impairment at that stage. The descent button had been hit,” he said.
He put it to the jury that the market would have been able to accept a total end of year figure of €44bn in customer deposits, as opposed to the figure of €51bn which include the ILP deal.