Jurors hear closing speeches for two

At a glance: Day 42

Paul O’Higgins

Paul O’Higgins



n After 10 weeks, the trial is in its final stages. Yesterday, the jury heard closing speeches from the prosecution and barristers for two of the accused men.

n Paul O’Higgins SC, for the State, said loans given by Anglo as part of the July 2008 transaction to unwind businessman Se án Quinn’s stake in the bank were “spectacularly not in the ordinary course of business” and that some information put in documents connected to the loans was “bogus”.

n Mr O’Higgins told the jury the loans were not for the benefit of borrowers, but for the benefit of the bank. Their objective was to try and “shore up anticipated problems if there was a sudden unwind” of the Quinn holding, he said.

There was an effort “to make it look like everything was done properly”.

n Brendan Grehan SC, for Pat Whelan, told the jurors they were not there to “satisfy the baying for blood of the mob ”. Nobody had been unaffected by the collapse of the banks, he said, but this trial was about an entirely separate issue.

n Mr Grehan said his client, a “diligent, hard worker” who had never gone to college but worked his way through the ranks at Anglo, did not have “the slightest inkling” that anything he might have been doing was wrong.

With the “crystal clear prism of hindsight”, everyone could say that the Anglo share price collapsed afterwards and that the lending had been a bad idea , but he said that at the time, it was a “perfectly valid commercial transaction”. The Maple 10 borrowers saw it as such, he added.

n Mr Grehan said his client acted on the basis of the belief that what he did was in accordance with the bank’s ordinary course of business - a belief that was based on the fact that the financial regulator was comfortable with the deal, positive legal advice had been received and Morgan Stanley would not get involved unless it was satisfied that it met all legal and regulatory requirements.

n In his closing, Michael O’Higgins SC, for Se án Fitz- Patrick, said Anglo’s loans to the Maple 10 were in the ordinary course of business but even if they were not, the jury would have to be sure that his client was aware of that and authorised the deal.

n Mr O’Higgins used the analogy of a husband breaking a red light with his pregnant wife in the back to explain his client’s position.

He said even if a garda stopped you and gave you an escort, it was still breaking a red light. Even if it was a European commissioner or a presidential convoy, “it is still breaking a red light”.

“All the officialdom in the world cannot turn that light green,” he said, “but if such a case was to be prosecuted you might think it’s absurd.”

n Mr FitzPatrick’s “impression” ahead of the deal, he said, was that the lending to the Maple 10 was 100 per cent recourse.

Mr O’Higgins said it was wrong of the prosecution to make the “Mafioso suggestion” that Mr FitzPatrick had not wanted to know the identities of the Maple 10. He said it was proper for him not to know as otherwise he could be accused of insider trading.

n Mr O’Higgins said Mr FitzPatrick had taken “reasonable steps” to fulfil his responsibilities as non- executive chairman and had “checked” that internal and external experts were happy with the transaction before it went ahead.

Mr O’Higgins is expected to conclude his speech this morning.

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