Donegal native Willie McAteer graduated from UCD with a BA in commerce and a master's in business studies. He went on to qualify as a chartered accountant and then as a member of the Irish Tax Institute.
After becoming a partner in PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), McAteer went on to become managing director of Paul Coulson's Yeoman International Leasing, a venture capital lending firm. In March 1992 he was made redundant from Yeoman and was offered a job by Seán FitzPatrick, then chief executive of up-and-coming Anglo Irish Bank and a man he knew from his time in PwC.
As finance director, McAteer was there for a 15-year stretch of continuous growth and expansion as Anglo became Ireland's third biggest bank, with interests in North America, the UK and eastern Europe.
McAteer slotted into the role of a numbers man who travelled frequently selling the Anglo story to international investors.
McAteer was also appointed to Anglo’s board of executive directors and attended all meetings, although he was not at the meeting in December 2008 at which FitzPatrick resigned.
When David Drumm was appointed as chief executive of Anglo in 2005, he relied on McAteer to introduce him to key investors.
During the Drumm era the bank doubled in size and McAteer was given responsibility for risk as well as finance. In this role Matt Moran reported to him as his chief financial officer.
Moran, who was granted immunity by the State in the this trial, was seen as McAteer’s heir apparent.
During the summer of 2008 McAteer attended some of the weekly “funding initiative” meetings held on Friday afternoon in Drumm’s office. During these meetings up to 30 different plans designed to increase deposits into the bank were discussed, but by September all but the Irish Life & Permanent (ILP) plan had fallen away.
McAteer told gardaí he was aware of the ILP deal but not of the mechanics of it.
The trial heard that his main role in the transaction was, as chief risk officer, signing off on the credit excess required to allow the deals to go through the bank’s system.
The €7.2 billion deal was €6.7 billion in excess of the normal credit limits. McAteer would have also sat in on meetings of Anglo’s audit committee, which approved how the deal was presented in Anglo’s preliminary results.
On January 7th, 2009, McAteer resigned from Anglo Irish Bank. Det Sgt
from the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation told the trial that on March 24th, 2010 she went to McAteer’s then family home in Auburn Villas,
and arrested the accused.
McAteer’s finance department was responsible for accounting the transactions in the bank’s balance sheet. He denied to gardaí that the €7.2 billion deposits were created for the purpose of creating a false impression of the health of the bank and told investigators the accounts reflected the actual transaction.
Lawyers for McAteer told the jurors that if they accepted that McAteer believed the deals were properly accounted for, then this was not a view consistent with dishonesty or a conspiracy to defraud.
They also argued that it was inconceivable that he would be a part of a conspiracy in the knowledge that all of these things were going to be run before various arms of the State, including the Department of Finance and the Central Bank.