Former Anglo Irish Bank chairman Sean FitzPatrick told an employee not to submit accounts belonging to his brother-in-law to Revenue, which was then investigating alleged tax evasion at the bank, a trial has heard.
The trial of three Anglo officials accused of hiding accounts connected to Mr Fitzpatrick heard from the former head of compliance with the bank, Brian Gillespie.
He told the court one of the accused, Tiarnan O’Mahoney, had ordered him to get his approval first before submitting accounts sought by the Revenue Commissioners.
The witness said that another accused, Bernard Daly, had asked him if he would delete an account if Mr Fitzpatrick asked him to.
Former company secretary Mr Daly (65) of Collins Avenue West, Whitehall, Dublin, former chief operations officer Mr O'Mahoney (54) of Glen Pines, Enniskerry, Co Wicklow and Aoife Maguire (60) of Rothe Abbey, South Circular Road, Kilmainham, Dublin have pleaded not guilty to seven alleged offences committed in 2003 and 2004.
They are accused of trying to delete references to two accounts in the name of John Peter O’Toole from Anglo’s Core Banking System (CBS).
Mr Daly and Mr O’Mahoney also deny omitting the name of Mr O’Toole from a list provided to the Revenue Commissioners of people who held non-resident accounts worth more than €100,000 in 1995. Mr O’Mahoney and Ms Maguire further deny attempting to delete six other accounts, connected to Mr FitzPatrick.
Mr Gillespie told the Circuit Criminal Court that in 2003 he was tasked with supplying documentation to Revenue on non-resident accounts on which Deposit Interest Retention Tax (DIRT) may have been owed.
Mr Gillespie said Revenue had obtained a High Court order requiring Anglo to hand over details of non-resident accounts which had been closed.
He said the High Court order was for non-resident accounts but not necessarily bogus non-resident accounts. He said he would supply requested accounts and Revenue would decide if they were bogus or not.
Mr Gillespie said he recalls being called up to the office of Mr Fitzpatrick’s, who was then chief executive. He said he didn’t know why he was there but that it soon became clear it was in relation to the High Court order.
He said Mr Fitzpatrick asked him about the inclusion of a non-resident account in the name of John Peter O’Toole, although he may have referred to him simply as Peter O’Toole. The court previously heard Mr O’Toole is Mr Fitzpatrick’s brother-in-law.
The witness said he had previously come across the O’Toole account himself during his work.
He confirmed that the account had an Australian address, had a balance of over IR£14,000 in June 1995 and had later been closed.
“From memory that was an account that closed and came squarely within the terms of the court order,” Mr Gillespie said.
He said that Mr Fitzpatrick explained to him who he was and mentioned his brother-in-law. “He made it clear to me that a family member of his wasn’t to be returned to the Revenue,” Mr Gillespie said.
He said Mr Fitzpatrick seemed confused about the terms of the High Court order. He said he explained to Mr Fitzpatrick that they weren’t sending Revenue a list of bogus non-resident accounts but rather a list of non-resident accounts in general which the Revenue would assess.
He said he had further conversations with the chief executive about the O’Toole account but that he couldn’t remember how many. “Not a great number, more than two.”
“As far as I was concerned that account came within the terms of the High Court order and as long as I had anything to do with it that account would be returned under the High Court order,” Mr Gillespie told prosecuting counsel Dominic McGinn SC.
He said he reported Mr Fitzpatrick’s comments to his superior, director of finance Willie McAteer but that he didn’t seem interested.
"I tried to raise it with Willie McAteer but Willie wasn't particulary…I had the impression that he had a different dispute with Sean Fitzpatrick at the time and I got the impression as soon as I mentioned his name he didn't want to hear about it," Mr Gillespie said.
Mr Gillespie said that after his first meeting with Mr Fitzpatrick he was called into the office of Mr O’Mahoney who told him it must be very stressful dealing with Mr Fitzpatrick about a family member.
He said Mr O’Mahoney asked him “rhetorically or otherwise” why Mr Gillespie hadn’t come to him about the matter. He said the accused also asked him about the general methodology in selecting accounts to be returned to Revenue.
Mr Gillepsie said Mr O’Mahoney told him that money going from a main account into a sub account didn’t necessarily mean that account had closed
“There was specific discussion about the John Peter O’Toole account which I was of the view had closed no matter what way you looked at it,” Mr Gillespie said. “He said he didn’t agree with my methodology with reference to John Peter O’Toole account but he didn’t say why.”
The witness said Mr O’Mahoney told him not to submit the files to Revenue until he said it was ok.
He said that on the day before the accounts were to be submitted to Revenue he went to Mr O’Mahoney to tell him they should submit the O’Toole account. “His response to me was a single word, ‘fine.’”
Mr Gillespie also gave evidence of a later DIRT audit by Revenue which was separate to the High Court order. He said that his understanding was that Mr Daly was putting a team together to assist Revenue in this.
He said Mr Daly asked him, in the context of this audit, if he would be prepared to delete an account if asked to do so by Sean Fitzpatrick.
“I said no,” Mr Gillespie told counsel. “It was a very brief conversation, his reaction was more or less that I wouldn’t be needed. That was more or less it. He walked on and I walked on.”
The trial continues before Judge Patrick McCartan and a jury of six men and six women.