Former Anglo chiefs sent for trial


Three former executives of Anglo Irish Bank have been sent forward for trial at the Circuit Criminal Court on charges of providing unlawful financial assistance to 16 individuals in July 2008.

The bank's former chairman Seán FitzPatrick, former finance director Willie McAteer and former managing director of the bank in Ireland Pat Whelan were served the books of evidence - amounting to nine volumes in three boxes for each of them - in court this morning.

The men appeared before Judge Cormac Dunne at the Criminal Courts of Justice next to the Phoenix Park in Dublin, sitting beside each other for the first time since they were charged in July. They did not speak to each other during the ten-minute hearing.

Mr McAteer and Mr Whelan were accompanied by their wives, while Mr FitzPatrick attended court with his sister and his daughter. Mr FitzPatrick wore a navy suit, light blue shirt and pink tie. Mr McAteer wore a navy suit, blue tie and light blue shirt. Mr Whelan wore a navy suit and shirt but no tie.

Detectives from the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation and the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement began leaving the boxes containing the books of evidence next to the three men in court during the hearing.

The judge intervened saying that there was "no need to physically personally" hand them the volumes as it didn't make sense; the books of evidence could be given to solicitors for the three men, said Judge Dunne.

A solicitor for Mr Whelan asked the court to change the terms of his bail. He was previously told to give 48 hours' notice if he is travelling abroad. The court agreed to suspend his signing-on conditions while he was travelling.

Former Anglo executives Mr FitzPatrick, Mr McAteer and Mr Whelan have been charged under company law offences relating to providing unlawful financial assistance to 16 individuals in July 2008 as the banking crisis was worsening. They were charged, indicted and released on bail last July.

They are the first individuals to be charged in the investigation into events leading to the collapse of Anglo in January 2009. The Government is injecting at least €29.3 billion into the nationalised bank to cover losses on its heavy lending to the property market.

The three men were remanded on continuing bail to appear again at the next sitting of the Circuit Criminal Court in the coming weeks.

The charges relate to loans provided by Anglo to a group of investors - ten customers known as the "Maple 10" - and to the five children of bankrupt businessman Seán Quinn and his wife Patricia to buy shares in the bank.

The 10 long-standing customers are Paddy McKillen, Seamus Ross, Brian O'Farrell, John McCabe, Gerry Maguire, Patrick Kearney, Gerry Conlon, Gerry Gannon, Sean Reilly and Joe O'Reilly.

Anglo gave the loans to prop up its share price at a time the bank crisis was deepening and falling share prices raised concerns about the stability of financial institutions and encouraged customers to withdraw their money from the bank.

The loans were provided as part of the unwinding of an indirect 28 per cent stake in the bank amassed by Mr Quinn through a share instrument called contracts for difference (CFDs) over a period of several years which the bank was concerned was having a destabilising effect on the bank.

Video of Sean FitzPatrick on his way to court