Catastrophic consequences for jailed former Anglo staff

‘Stroke of one button’ sealed the fate of the three bankers

From left: Former Anglo officials Aoife Maguire, Tiarnan O’Mahoney and Bernard Daly.

From left: Former Anglo officials Aoife Maguire, Tiarnan O’Mahoney and Bernard Daly.

 

It was, as one of the lawyers seeking clemency for his client said, an act involving “the stroke of one button”. Yet that simple act, an attempt to hide from Revenue accounts linked to Anglo Irish Bank chief executive Seán FitzPatrick, has had catastrophic consequences for the three former executives involved in it.

All day they sat yesterday in Court 19 of the Criminal Court Complex, side by side but not interacting, awaiting a decision by Judge Pat McCartan on the sentences they should serve.

The distress was all too visible on the face of former assistant manager Aoife Maguire, who spent much of the day close to tears and had to be comforted by friends whenever a break in proceedings occurred.

Former chief operating officer Tiarnan O’Mahoney and former company secretary Bernard Daly, clean-shaven after their night on remand, remained impassive as the defence lawyers delivered mitigating arguments and called character witnesses.

These were, as the judge later agreed, impeccable witnesses with no criminal records, held in good stead by colleagues and engaged in community and sporting activities.

Daly was involved in the Society of St Vincent de Paul and parish work, and spent 14 years as chairman of a charity for deaf people.

Maguire worked her way up the Anglo greasy pole, having started as a typist. Her marriage ended early, leaving her as the sole breadwinner to raise a daughter on her own.

O’Mahoney, too, was dedicated to his family and had a passion for GAA, the court heard.

The defence lawyers did their bit, pleading age and character by way of mitigation. Daly’s lawyers spoke of his client’s “relative culpability” – relative, that is, to Mr FitzPatrick – and claimed it was “unaccountable” the bank’s former boss was not being prosecuted for the same offences.

What happened to the three executives could have happened to anyone told to follow orders, was the gist of the argument. Except that it didn’t. Other staff in Anglo resisted the pressure to hide the accounts. IT staff said they were uncomfortable with the demands made of them and, as the judge pointed out, effectively disobeyed an order to delete files.

Summing up, the judge soon made it clear he favoured custodial sentences for this “significant and deliberate” fraud. The colour drained from the faces of the trio in the dock as he leaned towards a penalty at the upper end of the five-year guideline. Maguire closed her eyes as the judge delivered the sentences to a silent court. She kept them closed when, to the surprise of many present, it became clear no part of the sentence would be suspended.