The central theme in the case against three former officials of Anglo Irish Bank on trial is former chairman of the bank Seán FitzPatrick, the jury at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court have been told.
In his closing speech to the jury, Dominic McGinn SC, for the prosecution, said the reason that was important was because it provided motive in the case.
He said all of the accounts involved had links to Mr FitzPatrick, but he was not on trial and the jury did not have to form any conclusion about his culpability.
Aoife Maguire (63) of Rothe Abbey, South Circular Road, Kilmainham, Dublin, Bernard Daly (67) of Collins Avenue West, Whitehall, Dublin and Tiarnan O'Mahoney (56) of Glen Pines, Enniskerry, Co Wicklow have been charged with trying to hide accounts, connected to the former chairman of the bank, Seán FitzPatrick, from Revenue between March 2003 and December 2004.
They have pleaded not guilty.
The court was told Revenue sought information on non-resident accounts after a tax amnesty showed some clients of the bank held bogus non-resident accounts.
Information had to be supplied by the bank on foot of a High Court order, in March 2003, and an audit, beginning in October 2003, the court heard.
Mr McGinn said when that was happening there was a decision to hide accounts from revenue because “they might find something in there”.
He said the first step taken in the conspiracy was to stop an account held by John Peter O’Toole, Mr FitzPatrick’s brother-in-law, from being provided to revenue as part of the audit and it was not included on a list sent to them as part of the audit on November 17th, 2003.
He said Mr Daly and Mr O’Mahoney were charged with this conspiracy. It was Mr Daly who handed over the list of the non-resident accounts on November 17th, and Mr O’Toole’s account was not on it. The motivation was the connection to Mr FitzPatrick and concerns the account was not genuinely non-resident. Mr FitzPatrick was making deposits into it and his mother-in-law, Mary O’Toole was making withdrawals from it.
If revenue had looked at that account they would see those transactions and might “realise it was bogus non-resident”, he said, that’s why it had to be concealed.
He highlighted evidence of Brian Gillespie, head of compliance at the bank, who spoke of conversations with Mr FitzPatrick and Mr O'Mahoney about not sending the account on foot of the separate, earlier High Court order, though ultimately it was sent. But it was those conversations, that resulted in the account not being included on the audit list, Mr McGinn said.
He said Mr Daly was centrally involved in selecting and managing the team for the audit and he also followed up with Mr Gillespie on early conversations of Mr FitzPatrick and Mr O’Mahoney. This showed he was part of the conspiracy, Mr McGinn said. Mr Gillespie was removed from the audit team, though he would have been the most logical to remain on it because he had worked on the earlier High Court order.
Mr O'Mahoney also had a conversation with Zita Madden, who was originally to head up the task team for the audit, and asked her about deleting accounts; when she refused she was removed, Mr McGinn said. This showed a clear agenda on the part of Mr Daly and Mr O'Mahoney to prevent Mr O'Toole's accounts from going to revenue.
The other charges involved attempts to delete six accounts from the bank’s core banking system. These were two accounts of Mr O’Toole and four other business accounts with connections to Mr FitzPatrick. The accounts were actually archived, because IT staff decided between them not to delete them completely, but the intention was to delete them, Mr McGinn said.
He said Ms Maguire’s involvement in this was clear from emails, including one between two IT staff recounting a conversation with Ms Maguire about concerns about deletion which said “they still want us to go ahead”. He said emails also showed Ms Maguire had supplied the account numbers to IT. She also worked in a separate office from the task team, he said.
Mr Daly, who is charged with offences related only to Mr O’Toole’s accounts, was in charge of the task team and must have known Ms Maguire had a separate role. If he hadn’t been part of the conspiracy he’d question this, Mr McGinn said.
Mr O’Mahoney received emails on November 12th, 2003, while a meeting was taking place with revenue, with a list of account numbers of Mr O’Toole, from Mr FitzPatrick’s personal assistant. This was “no co-incidence”, Mr McGinn said.
Mr O’Mahoney also had connections to one of the accounts that was changed, though not deleted; Carnahalla Ltd, and he was involved with a loan facility for $1.2 million for shares with Mr FitzPatrick. But when gardaí asked him if he knew about Carnahalla, he said no, “because he knew it connected him to the deleted accounts”, Mr McGinn said.
He said the only reason why the conspirators wanted to hide the accounts was because they thought they might be liable to tax.
Ms Maguire and Mr O’Mahoney were charged with agreeing to delete the six accounts, he said, including four business accounts and two accounts of Mr O’Toole. They did not know the scope of what the revenue audit would be, so the underlying motivation could only have been to hide information from revenue.
There is ample evidence in which all three of the accused could be connected to each of the charges they face, Mr McGinn said.
Brendan Grehan SC, for Mr O’Mahoney, has begun his address to the jury.