O’Mahoney should not be ‘whipping boy’ in Anglo case, court hears

Court hears Fitzpatrick’s ‘paws are all over’ the collapse but ‘he’s nowhere to be found’

Tiarnan O’Mahoney, one of three former Anglo Irish Bank officials on trial at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, should not be used as a “whipping boy or proxy” to vent against those responsible for the collapse of the bank, a jury has been told. Photograph: Court Collins.

Tiarnan O’Mahoney, one of three former Anglo Irish Bank officials on trial at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, should not be used as a “whipping boy or proxy” to vent against those responsible for the collapse of the bank, a jury has been told. Photograph: Court Collins.

 

Tiarnan O’Mahoney, one of three former Anglo Irish Bank officials on trial at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, should not be used as a “whipping boy or proxy” to vent against those responsible for the collapse of the bank, a jury has been told.

In his closing statement, Brendan Grehan SC, for Mr O’Mahoney said, his client was gone from the bank in 2004.

He said everyone in the court had been affected by the collapse of Anglo and future generations had been burdened with debt. It was therefore understandable that “any and all of us would feel incredible resentment against anyone who had anything to do with Anglo Irish Bank”.

“In western parlance there was the “hunt ‘em down and hang ‘em high cry of the mob, but when you have that approach the wrong people can simply get caught in the cross fire and it can happen to satiate a public demand for vengeance,” he said.

He said the man on the bus would be rubbing his hands when hearing Anglo bankers were on trial and may expect the jury to do the job for him; pot the Anglo banker who happens to be on trial.

“”I don’t expect you will be seduced by any populist demands,” he said.

Mr O’Mahoney (56) of Glen Pines, Enniskerry, Co Wicklow, Aoife Maguire (63) of Rothe Abbey, South Circular Road, Kilmainham, Dublin and Bernard Daly (67) of Collins Avenue West, Whitehall, Dublin have been charged with trying to hide accounts, connected to former chief executive and then chairman Sean FitzPatrick, from Revenue between March 2003 and December 2004.

They have pleaded not guilty.

Mr Grehan said one of the most extraordinary features of the trial was that Mr Fitzpatrick was not on the bench beside the three accused, if in fact he was the chief orchestrator of what happened. He said it was clear Mr FitzPatrick, former chief executive and then chairman of the bank, was “the perceived beneficiary”.

The prosecution acknowledged he was at the centre of the case and it was an irony that everyone was talking about him but he wasn’t here. He was like “the man on the grassy knoll”, or “Macavity the mystery cat”, Mr Grehan said; “his paws are all over it ... but he’s nowhere to be found”.

“Instead, you have Mr O’Mahoney here,” he said.

Mr Grehan said the charges against his client, the bank’s chief operating officer, were of the “most vague, woolly and incomplete kind,” and there was an attempt to “beat that square peg into a round hole”.

Apart from the first charge, he said the prosecution had brought “vague conspiracy charges” and conspiracy was the last refuge when you can’t point to something someone has actually done. The prosecution had basically collected “bits and bobs, snippets of conversations and random emails” and attributed enormous weight to them.

Mr Grehan said conspiracy charges had an “ignoble pedigree” and had been brought against Daniel O’Connell, Charles Stewart Parnell and the Irish in England on explosives charges.

He also said the events in the trial go back over a number of years and that meant evidence could be lost and recollections affected.

And he suggested the jury consider people who have axes to grind or something to hide in their evidence.

Mr Grehan said there was no evidence of any loss to revenue or of personal gain to Mr O’Mahoney. He told the jury they were being asked to convict on the basis of a thought crime; that the accused might have thought something would happen.

He said there was no evidence Mr O’Mahoney knew anything of the details of any of the accounts connected to Mr FitzPatrick and the prosecution was saying “never mind the evidence, just jump to the conclusion”.

He said the first charge was that his client had supplied incorrect evidence to revenue between dates in March and December 2003. But that information was supplied to revenue between those dates, not as part of the audit revenue was carrying out, but under a separate procedure, on foot of a High Court order.

He said one of the witnesses, head of compliance Brian Gillespie, had said it was “inconceivable” that revenue wouldn’t have cross-checked those two lists. And a revenue official who gave evidence, Anthony Rice, at first said they hadn’t cross-checked, but when shown an email discussing both lists, agreed they had.

Mr Grehan undermined the suggestion that Mr Gillespie was terrified of Mr O’Mahoney, saying Mr Gillespie had managed to “go three rounds” with Mr FitzPatrick, and hadn’t flinched. He also criticised the prosecution’s closing, saying it was not an accurate statement of what was said or the meaning of it.

He said one of the curious things about the charges of deleting accounts was that two of the charges related to a conspiracy between Mr O’Mahoney and Mr Daly, and the other charges related to a conspiracy between Mr O’Mahoney and Ms Maguire, yet there was evidence all of the accounts had been deleted “in one button stroke”.

And the deletions didn’t happen until October 29th, 2004, he said, yet “the cheque (to settle the tax bill on the accounts) had already been cashed by revenue”.

He also said accounts of Carnahalla Ltd, listed in the charges as having been deleted, never were.

The deletions “had to be done at the behest and request of Sean FitzPatrick and there is no gain in it from Mr O’Mahoney”, he said.

Mr Grehan also said an email sent by Ms Maguire in October 2003, when the team to deal with the revenue audit was set up, saying she’d be working for Mr O’Mahoney, had “undue weight” put on it by the prosecution. The prosecution was suggesting she was still working for him a year later, but it may only have been for a number of weeks or months.

He suggested the jury should reject the conclusions of the prosecution that had been foisted on them without evidence.

“You’ve been asked to make a leap into the dark ... a quantum leap I would say,” Mr Grehan said.

The jury will hear closing statements on behalf of Mr Daly and Ms Maguire on Monday.