Quinns’ request for Anglo trial transcript a ‘fishing expedition’

Family asks court for information from criminal case for use in upcoming civil action

Businessman Sean Quinn.  Lawyers on behalf of the Quinn family made an application to Dublin Circuit Criminal Court for a transcript of the criminal trial for use by the Quinn in two upcoming civil actions. Photograph: Collins

Businessman Sean Quinn. Lawyers on behalf of the Quinn family made an application to Dublin Circuit Criminal Court for a transcript of the criminal trial for use by the Quinn in two upcoming civil actions. Photograph: Collins

 

Lawyers for a former director of Anglo Irish Bank have described a request by the Quinn family for a transcript of his previous criminal trial as a “fishing expedition”.

Pat Whelan (52) and William McAteer (63) were convicted last April of breaching the Companies Act by illegally lending money to the Maple Ten group of investors so they could buy shares in Anglo. This was for the purpose of stabilising the bank’s plummeting share price.

Whelan of Malahide, Dublin and McAteer of Greenrath, Tipperary Town, Co Tipperary denied all charges against them. Their co-accused, former Anglo Chairman Sean FitzPatrick of Greystones, Co Wicklow was found not guilty on all 16 counts.

On April 17th last, a jury at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court found Whelan and McAteer guilty on ten charges each of breaching Section 60 of the Companies Act 1963 by lending money to the investors as part of a share support scheme. They were sentenced to 240 hours of community service.

The jury acquitted them on six further charges each of lending money for the same purpose to members of former billionaire businessman Sean Quinn’s family.

The trial heard a total of €450 million was illegally loaned to the Maple Ten while €160 million was loaned to Mr Quinn’s wife and five children.

Today lawyers on behalf of the Quinn family made an application to Dublin Circuit Criminal Court for a transcript of the criminal trial for use by the Quinn in two upcoming civil actions.

Charlotte Simpson BL, for the Quinns, said many witnesses who were in the criminal proceedings were also witnesses in the commercial court proceedings. “There’s going to be a massive overlap in the type of evidence called”, she said.

The first civil action is due to begin in April of next year and is set to take six to nine months.

Ms Simpson said that furnishing the Quinns with the transcript was in the interests of justice because it would allow all sides in the civil actions to “agree substantial amounts of evidence” and thus save time and costs.

She said the transcripts had already been furnished to the defendants in the criminal trial who are named in the civil action. This was therefore an imbalance of justice as they can rely on the transcript which the Quinn family do not have.

She pointed out that six of the 16 charges proffered in the criminal trial were with respect to loans to the Quinn family, as related to section 60 of the Companies Act 1963. She said the breaching of this section, making the loans illegal, is one of the allegations in the civil action.

The court heard that Mr Whelan and Mr FitzPatrick were opposing the application and that Mr McAteer was neither opposing nor agreeing to it.

Shelley Horan BL, for Pat Whelan, said that her client was opposing the application for the transcript and she described it as a broad “fishing type expedition” which was extremely vague.

She said the grounding affidavit by Aoife Quinn did not meet the “high threshold” required for a transcript to be released. Counsel said the application is based on the premise that witnesses will agree to adopt their evidence from the criminal trial.

She said there must be a fact that is in dispute between the evidence given at the first trial and evidence in the civil matter and that if this arose during the civil action a transcript could then be released.

Judge Martin Nolan said this was pretty impractical. He asked how any party could be prejudiced by having a true record of what was previously said in trial.

He said to hear the full application will take an hour and adjourned it to October 28th for a full hearing.