Judge directs acquittal of former Anglo executive
Tiarnan O’Mahoney was accused of conspiring to destroy, mutilate or falsify records of accounts
A judge has directed the acquittal of a former Anglo Irish Bank executive accused of conspiring to destroy, mutilate or falsify records of accounts allegedly connected to former chief executive Sean FitzPatrick.
Tiarnan O’Mahoney (58), the bank’s former chief operations officer, walked away from the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court a free man after Judge Martin Nolan told jurors that the case against the former Anglo executive should not go before them by reason of the absence of evidence to support his guilt.
Mr O’Mahoney of Glen Pines, Enniskerry, Co Wicklow had no comment to make to waiting reporters as he left the Criminal Courts of Justice next to the Phoenix Park in Dublin after a trial that lasted more than 20 days.
He had pleaded not guilty to the charges and to conspiracy to defraud the Revenue Commissioners.
The offenses were alleged to have occurred between March 25th, 2003 and December 31st, 2004, and related to eight named bank accounts, all of which were connected to Mr FitzPatrick.
The judge told a jury of eight women and four men that the application to have the defendant acquitted was not unusual at the end of the prosecution’s case and that he had to consider the application on its merits. “These trials are more usual than they normally were,” said Judge Nolan.
He directed the jury to sign papers finding Mr O’Mahoney not guilty by the direction of the judge. He thanked them for their attentiveness and for “taking on this long trial” and said that they were “essential to the proper administration of justice.” He told them that they were free to go.
This was the second time that Mr O’Mahoney was before the courts on these charges.
He was convicted of the charges and sentenced to three years in 2015 but the Court of Appeal quashed his conviction in March 2016 and sent him back for retrial that began earlier this month.
The judge made his ruling this week after the defence had argued that the case should go before the jury because the prosecution had not proved the necessary connection between Aoife Maguire, a former assistant manager at Anglo Irish Bank, and Mr O’Mahoney.
Judge Nolan said that after considering the arguments from both sides, he had reluctantly come to the conclusion that the case was “too tenuous” to go to the jury and a conviction would be “perverse.”
“The evidence of conspiracy to do the acts with which Mr O’Mahoney is charged is too tenuous, too remote in both substance and in time,” he said in court on Tuesday.
The judge said that he was not satisfied that any properly directed jury could convict in these circumstances as they would be asked to speculate and fill in gaps in the evidence during the trial.
There was every reason to be suspicious of Mr O’Mahoney’s activities in October and November 2003, Judge Nolan said, and in his subsequent dealings with the Garda, but in the absence of formal evidence of conspiracy with Ms Maguire, this was not enough.
The judge said that it was obvious that the person who benefited from the deletion of the accounts was Mr FitzPatrick. The offences took place at a time when the Revenue was investigating Irish banks and their customers in relation to tax evasion and the use of bogus non-resident accounts.
“Sean FitzPatrick used the accounts to deal in Anglo shares in a prohibited period. For a petty reward, he breached the rules in relation to insider trading,” Judge Nolan said.
The prosecution had argued that Ms Maguire approached members of the bank’s IT during the Revenue audit in 2003 and asked that certain accounts be deleted from the bank’s system.
The IT department members, however, were uncomfortable with this instruction and archived the accounts rather than deleted them. When the accounts were recovered, some details had been altered.
The prosecution had argued that Mr O’Mahoney was part of an agreement to make a deliberate, concerted effort to alter the details of these accounts and to defraud the Revenue.
Former Anglo company secretary Bernard Daly (69) and Ms Maguire were convicted in 2015 and received custodial sentences for their role in the conspiracy to hide bank accounts from the Revenue.
Mr Daly was sentenced to two years in prison but his conviction was quashed in the Court of Appeal in March 2016.
In December 2015 Ms Maguire successfully appealed her 18-month sentence for her role in the conspiracy on the basis that it was too severe. Maguire was released from prison.
She did not appeal her conviction so she remains the only person to be convicted of these offences.