Former Anglo official denies knowledge of conflict of interest

Three charged with conspiring to hide accounts with links to Seán FitzPatrick

 

A former official at Anglo Irish Bank has said he was not aware that, when a fraud officer was appointed in 2010 to examine the “archiving” of certain bank accounts during an earlier Revenue audit, the same officer had been involved with a team assisting in that audit.

Giving evidence at the trial of three former Anglo officials at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, Walter Tyrell said he was not aware in April 2010 that fraud officer Patrick Peake had been on a team in in the bank in 2003 that prepared a list of non-resident accounts for Revenue.

Mr Tyrell, the former head of internal audit at Anglo and IBRC, said he was not aware of the “potential conflict of interest” until it was brought to his attention in August the same year.

Mr Tyrell said that, when the issue was brought to his attention, he “didn’t escalate it upwards”.

Aoife Maguire (60) of Rothe Abbey, South Circular Road, Kilmainham, Dublin, Bernard Daly (65) of Collins Avenue West, Whitehall, Dublin and Tiarnan O’Mahoney (54) of Glen Pines, Enniskerry, Co Wicklow have been charged with trying to hide accounts connected to the former Anglo chairman Sean FitzPatrick from Revenue between March 2003 and December 2004.

They have pleaded not guilty.

Mr Tyrell told the court the issues surrounding the archiving of bank accounts in the bank first came to light when he was asked to investigate directors’ loans by incoming chairman of Anglo, Donal O’Connor, in late 2008.

He said Mr FitzPatrick had resigned as chairman amid “commentary about directors’ loans”.

He told counsel for the prosecution, Dominic McGinn SC, that he mentioned the archive issue to Mr O’Connor, but that other events took over.

“My mind was on other things,” he said.

Mr Tyrell said that he came back to the matter in March 2010, when the bank had “settled down a bit”, after a “chaotic” period.

He agreed with Mr McGinn that he told Mr O’Connor again about the archived accounts and that he was told to report the matter to the risk committee.

“We tried to clarify our facts as best we could,” he said.

Mr Peake was then appointed to examine the archiving, in April 2010.

Sean Guerin SC, for Mr Daly, said that, at a meeting in September 2010, Zita Madden, another bank official, had raised the conflict with Mr Tyrell and had asked for written details about the nature of the investigation.

Mr Guerin suggested that she was refused the request by Mr Tyrell.

Mr Tyrell said he did not recall.

Mr Guerin suggested that Mr Peake was able to choose the emails he examined during his investigation and that he did not examine his own emails or those of another official, Brian Gillespie.

Mr Guerin asked Mr Tyrell if he was happy with that.

Mr Tyrell said he accepted there was a conflict of interest, but said that it was a matter for Mr Peake.

Anglo account

The Central Criminal Court heard on Monday that an account held in Anglo Irish Bank was not furnished to the Revenue Commissioners because it was connected with Mr FitzPatrick.

In his opening statement at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, Dominic McGinn SC, for the prosecution, said an account held by John Peter O’Toole, Mr FitzPatrick’s brother-in-law, was deliberately omitted from a list of non-resident accounts given to Revenue in March 2003.

Two witnesses gave evidence for the prosecution on Tuesday morning.

Denis O’Connell, a principal officer with the Revenue Commissioners, explained to the jury how Revenue audits work.

Questioned about the audit procedure by Seán Guerin SC for Mr Daly, Mr O’Connell said it would not strike him as “unreasonable” that a Revenue audit could take nine months. Mr O’Connell agreed he had not been involved in any such audit of Anglo.

Tax consultant Liz Lyon was called to give evidence on the nature of trusts and the reasons why businesses or individuals might consider establishing trusts for tax planning purposes.

On Monday, Mr McGinn told the jury of six men and six women that in 2004, there were attempts to delete information from the bank’s database about the account, about another of Mr O’Toole’s accounts, and six other accounts. The motivation for that was a connection between the accounts and Mr FitzPatrick, he said. There was a concerted effort made to conceal them for the purpose of not paying tax.

Mr Daly and Mr O’Mahoney are accused of furnishing a list of bank accounts in connection with tax that did not include Mr O’Toole’s. And Ms Maguire and Mr O’Mahoney are accused of conspiring to destroy the records of six accounts and defraud Revenue.

The accounts were listed as Lock Ltd/Suzie Ltd, Carnahalla Ltd/Suzie Ltd, Lock Ltd, Carnahalla Ltd, Triumvirate Properties Ltd and Sean FitzPatrick Trust/Crohan O’Shea Trust.

Mr McGinn told the jury that in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Revenue contacted all banks to ask them about non-resident accounts and Anglo told them they had none. However, when a tax amnesty followed, some people came forward who had such accounts in Anglo, and Revenue decided to investigate.

It sought three lists of non-resident accounts of over €100,000 held in March 1990, 1995 and 1999.

To comply with that, a team was set up in the bank led by Mr Daly, with Mr O’Mahoney in a supervisory role. And Ms Maguire was appointed by Mr O’Mahoney to report directly to him and influence team members, Mr McGinn said.

In November 2003, lists were provided to revenue and Mr O’Toole’s name was left off the March 1995 list.

All three accused were involved in the attempt to delete Mr O’Toole’s accounts from the bank system, Mr McGinn said, and Mr O’Toole’s name was removed from the tax list by Mr Daly and Mr O’Mahoney.

Mr O’Mahoney and Ms Maguire were involved in an agreement to delete the other six accounts and hide references to them in the bank system, Mr McGinn said.

He also said the prosecution did not have to prove that Revenue was actually defrauded.

The trial continues before Judge Patrick McCartan.