Trial of former Anglo executive Tiarnan O’Mahoney collapses

Judge will direct jury to acquit ex-banker on charges of fraud and conspiracy regarding bank documents

Tiarnan O’Mahoney (58),   Glen Pines, Enniskerry, Co Wicklow:  has pleaded not guilty to a charge that he conspired to destroy, mutilate or falsify books and documents. Photograph:  Collins Courts

Tiarnan O’Mahoney (58), Glen Pines, Enniskerry, Co Wicklow: has pleaded not guilty to a charge that he conspired to destroy, mutilate or falsify books and documents. Photograph: Collins Courts

 

The trial of a former senior Anglo Irish Bank official charged with conspiring to destroy or falsify records of accounts allegedly connected to the bank’s former chief executive Seán FitzPatrick has collapsed.

Judge Martin Nolan told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court that he intends to direct the jury Wednesday to acquit Tiarnan O’Mahoney (58), former chief operations officer with the bank, of all counts against him.

Mr O’Mahoney of Glen Pines, Enniskerry, Co Wicklow, had pleaded not guilty to conspiring to destroy, mutilate or falsify books and documents affecting or relating to the property or affairs of Anglo Irish Bank.

He also pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Court to conspiracy to defraud the Revenue Commissioners.

The offences are alleged to have occurred between March 25th, 2003, and December 31st, 2004, and refer to eight named bank accounts, all of which were connected to Mr FitzPatrick.

Necessary connection

Judge Nolan’s ruling came after a submission from the defence arguing that the case should not 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.

Lawyers for the Director of Public Prosecution argued the case could be decided by a jury if a direction was given by Judge Nolan to combine all the circumstantial evidence together to form a compelling conclusion.

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.

He said he was not satisfied that any properly directed jury could convict in these circumstances, as they would be asked to speculate and to fill in gaps in the evidence adduced during the trial.

Judge Nolan said there was every reason to be suspicious of Mr O’Mahoney’s activities in October and November 2003, and his subsequent dealings with gardaí. But he said, in the absence of formal evidence of conspiracy with Aoife Maguire, this was not enough.

He said that it was obvious that the person who benefited from the deletion of the accounts in question was Mr FitzPatrick.

‘Petty reward’

“Seán 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.

Judge Nolan praised the Garda, who he said investigated the matter in an exemplary fashion.

The prosecution had alleged that Mr O’Mahoney conspired to delete six accounts from the bank’s electronic record system, and to disguise the identity of two further accounts.

During the trial, the court heard that all eight bank accounts were “to a greater or lesser extent” connected to Mr FitzPatrick. The alleged offences took place at a time when Revenue was investigating Irish banks in relation to bogus non-resident accounts.

In 2003, a High Court order was made with a view to getting a list of accounts which may have been liable for Deposit Interest Retention Tax (Dirt).

The prosecution’s case was that Aoife Maguire, a member of staff at Anglo, approached members of the bank’s IT team during the Revenue audit in 2003 and requested that certain accounts be deleted from the bank’s system.

Altered details

However, the IT department members were uncomfortable with this instruction, and archived the accounts rather than deleting them. When the archived accounts were recovered, it transpired that some details pertaining to the accounts 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 Revenue.

This trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court was a retrial after the Court of Appeal quashed Mr O’Mahoney’s 2015 conviction in April 2016.