Analysis: Complicated Anglo case did not stand up to scrutiny

O’Mahony and Daly trial, riddled with confusion, was not the State’s finest hour

 Bernard Daly was initially charged in 2013 with not having provided a specific bank account to Revenue in November 2003.  Photograph: Court Collins.

Bernard Daly was initially charged in 2013 with not having provided a specific bank account to Revenue in November 2003. Photograph: Court Collins.

 

When former Anglo Irish Bank officials Bernard Daly, Tiarnan O’Mahoney and Aoife Maguire were convicted last July of all the charges against them, there was a degree of surprise among those who had been present during the trial.

It had been a complicated, highly technical case and, it seemed to some, the firm evidence for some of the charges was difficult to stand up. The case centred on non-resident accounts in Anglo Irish Bank and a conspiracy to hide them. In 1986, Deposit Interest Retention Tax (Dirt) was introduced, to be paid on the bank accounts of people resident in Ireland.

In the early 2000s, Revenue contacted the banks for lists of non-resident accounts to detect those that were bogus. Anglo Irish Bank told them it had none that fit the criteria.

Amnesty

Daly and O’Mahoney were initially charged in November 2013 with not having provided a specific bank account to Revenue in November 2003. The clock was ticking on the 10-year time limit and the charge was rushed. As it turned out, it was changed so drastically for the trial that the Court of Appeal said it was a new charge and was therefore out of time.

The remaining charges all involved conspiracy. The prosecution said Daly, O’Mahoney and Maguire were involved in a conspiracy to falsify company records and defraud Revenue by having some accounts deleted. Maguire and O’Mahoney were also charged in connection with other accounts.

Confusion

There was also confusion around whether some accounts shown in evidence were savings accounts, subject to the audit, or current accounts, which were not.

The evidence against Daly seemed particularly hard to pin down. The 67-year-old had joined Anglo in 1993. He was the face of Anglo in its dealings with Revenue in 2003. But he was not computer literate; he had a computer on his desk, but never turned it on.

Former head of compliance Brian Gillespie had said that during a conversation on a corridor, Daly had asked him if he would delete an account if asked by a more senior official. It was the only real evidence connecting Daly to the conspiracy. It felt tenuous at the time.

The Court of Appeal found evidence against Daly was “thin” and said the conspiracy charge should have been withdrawn.

The convictions against both men would have been quashed anyway, on the basis that documents were admitted without being proved through evidence.

The trial was not the State’s finest hour.