Ex-Anglo officials jailed for hiding accounts

First bankers to go to jail since start of economic crisis

 

Three former executives of Anglo Irish Bank have become the first bankers to go to jail in Ireland since the economic crisis broke.

Former chief operations officer Tiarnan O’Mahoney and two other officials were given custodial sentences for their role in a conspiracy to hide bank accounts from the Revenue Commissioners.

O’Mahoney (56), who was once second in command at Anglo, received a three-year sentence for knowingly furnishing false information to Revenue, conspiring to have accounts deleted from the bank’s core banking system and conspiring to defraud Revenue.

Former company secretary Bernard Daly (67) was sentenced to two years for furnishing false information to Revenue and conspiring to delete accounts from the system and defraud Revenue.

Lowest ranking

Aoife Maguire (62), a former assistant manager who was the lowest ranking of the three, received 18 months for conspiring to delete accounts and conspiring to defraud Revenue.

Judge Patrick McCartan imposed sentences at the higher end of a five-year scale despite mitigating pleas made by defence lawyers and evidence to their good standing from character witnesses.

He told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court it was clear the accused engaged in a significant and deliberate fraud to stop the accounts linked to their employer, Anglo chief executive Seán FitzPatrick, from being disclosed to Revenue.

He called Anglo a “very sick bank” which “took a very, very dishonest approach to Revenue”.

The actions of the accused were “done out of misplaced loyalty but were still dishonest and were against all good banking principles and practices”, he said.

While they had co-operated with the Garda investigation to the extent of attending interviews and answering questions, these answers were self-serving and self-excusing.

Maguire, who was visibly upset during much of the hearing, closed her eyes as the judge announced the sentence; her codefendants seated beside her displayed no visible emotion.

Defence lawyers argued Mr FitzPatrick was the “prime mover” and beneficiary of the fraud.

Counsel for Daly, Seán Guerin SC, asked the judge to bear in mind the case against Mr FitzPatrick, who has never been charged in relation to the fraud, was stronger than the one against his client.

He asked the judge to consider “the impunity that Mr FitzPatrick has been fortunate enough to meet in these matters”.

Adjourn

Before the judge sentenced the three former bank officials, lawyers for Mr FitzPatrick told another court they wanted to adjourn his upcoming trial because of recent publicity surrounding the trial of the three officials.

They expressed concern about a proposed start date of October because of the proximity to the current case.

Lawyers claimed “a cascade of sludge” was visited on the head of Mr FitzPatrick during the trial of the officials.

Judge Martin Nolan of Dublin Circuit Criminal court will decide on the matter next week.

Judge McCartan said the trial of the three officials was a difficult case as it was not often people with impeccably good character came before the courts.

The challenge was to balance the interests of the accused and the public interest.

Banking must be built on trust and honesty and cannot work any other way, he said.

It appeared Anglo had a dishonest approach to its responsibilities to Revenue or the community and contrived to present a picture of having no liability for deposit interest retention tax .

When this lie was exposed by the tax amnesty, the bank set up a task team to assist the audit but also to protect its own chief executive.