Former Anglo Irish bank chief Seán FitzPatrick dies

Mr FitzPatrick (73) died of cardiac arrest, according to family

Seán Fitzpatrick, former chairman of Anglo-Irish Bank speaking at a company agm in 2006. Photograph: Alan Betson

Seán Fitzpatrick, former chairman of Anglo-Irish Bank speaking at a company agm in 2006. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

Seán FitzPatrick, the former chairman of Anglo Irish Bank, has died at the age of 73.

A spokesman for Mr FitzPatrick’s family confirmed that he died on Monday and the cause of death was cardiac arrest. The funeral mass will be held on Tuesday November 16th in the Holy Rosary Church, Greystones followed by interment in Redford Cemetary, Greystones.

Mr Fitzpatrick oversaw the rise of Anglo Irish Bank, the lender that collapsed during the financial crisis, from a small Dublin lender into Ireland’s third largest bank before the financial crisis and property crash brought down the bank.

The collapse passed losses of almost €30 billion onto the State and contributing to the Government’s need for an international financial bailout.

The outgoing son of small dairy farmer Michael and civil servant mother Johanna, Mr Fitzpatrick was born near Bray, Co Wicklow, and educated locally at Presentation College Bray before going on study commerce in University College Dublin.

In 1969, he joined Reynolds McCarron & O’Connor, a middle-ranking accountancy firm – which would ultimately become part of Ernst & Young – where one of his colleagues was Charlie McCreevy, a future minister for finance and European Union commissioner.

In 1974, the year that he married his wife Caitriona, Mr FitzPatrick joined the Irish Bank of Commerce, a company with four employees at the time. It would go on to merge with the City of Dublin Bank and Anglo Irish Bank Corporation, before Mr FitzPatrick took over as chief executive of the combined group in 1986. It had a gross loan book of €634,880 at the time.

By the time he stepped down as chief executive in 2005 to become group chairman, Anglo Irish Bank had a loan book of more than €34 billion and was generating annual pre-tax profits of €685 million -– with the company having become the lender of choice to some of the State’s biggest property developers during the Celtic Tiger years.

The loan book would more than double again in size in the subsequent three years under his successor, David Drumm, before the company nearly collapsed in September 2008 in the weeks after Lehman Brothers imploded, prompting then-taoiseach Brian Cowen’s government to issue a snap guarantee of the wider Irish banking sector.

Anglo resignation

Mr FitzPatrick would resign as chairman in December 2008, after it emerged he had had routinely moved tens of millions of euro of personal loans from the bank at the end of its financial year to rival Irish Nationwide Building Society, avoiding their disclosure to auditors and shareholders.

Anglo Irish Bank was nationalised in January 2008 and became the subject of a €29.3 billion taxpayer bailout, which would contribute to tipping the State into seeking an international aid package in late 2010 from the EU and the IMF.

The bank would be renamed as Irish Bank Resolution Corporation the following year before being merged with Irish Nationwide. The combined entity was put into liquidation in 2013.

Mr FitzPatrick was declared bankrupt in July 2010. A series of criminal trials followed on in the wake of the implosion of Anglo Irish Bank.

Mr FitzPatrick was cleared on all counts by a jury in 2014 of having any involvement in the bank’s extension of loans in 2008 to a group of developers to buy shares in Anglo Irish Bank, as the bank sought to unwind a leveraged clandestine stake in the lender held by the family of businessman Seán Quinn. In May 2017, on day 127 of the longest running criminal trial in the history of the State, Judge John Aylmer ordered that Mr FitzPatrick be found not guilty of hiding millions of euro in bank loans from auditors.

In his ruling, the judge strongly criticised the investigation by the Officer of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) into the matter, including the “extraordinary” shredding of documents by the ODCE investigator, Kevin O’Connell, and the coaching of witnesses, meaning there was a real risk to Mr FitzPatrick of an unfair trial. The case was actually a retrial. The first one was collapsed in May 2015, after it emerged that Mr O’Connell had shredded documents potentially relevant to the investigation.

Mr FitzPatrick is survived by his wife and the couple’s three adult children, Jonathan, David and Sarah.