Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

Jurors consider Anglo verdict

Sean FitzPatrick, the former chairman and one-time chief executive of Anglo Irish Bank, arrives at the Circuit Criminal Court, Dublin

The jury in a fraud trial of three Anglo Irish Bank directors over a multimillion loans-for-shares scheme have not reached a verdict after their first full day of deliberations.

Sean FitzPatrick, 65, from Greystones, Co Wicklow; Pat Whelan, 51, of Malahide, Co Dublin, and William McAteer, 63, of Rathgar, Dublin, all pleaded not guilty to providing unlawful financial assistance to a hand-picked group of clients in July 2008 to buy shares.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court has been told the plot was concocted to stabilise Anglo's share price as it tanked on world markets.

The stock had originally been bought up in secret trades by industrialist and now bankrupt Sean Quinn in a 2.4 billion euro doomed gamble on the bank.

The 12 jurors - selected by ballot from a panel of 14 - went out on Friday afternoon and deliberated for under an hour. They resumed deliberations this morning at 10.50am and have discussed the case for about six hours in total.

They have requested to see transcripts of evidence given by former Anglo directors Matt Moran and Fiachra O'Neill who were granted immunity and gave evidence for the state.

The state alleges that 619 million euro of loans - 450m euro to a handpicked group of investors known as the Maple 10, and 169m euro to members of the Quinn family - to unravel the tycoon's investment was not in the ordinary course of business.

Under company law banks are entitled to lend money to clients if that money is going to be used for commercial purposes, including buying shares.

But the prosecution claims this deal was extraordinary as it was done with the intention of stabilising the bank's stock market value.

Judge Martin Nolan has warned the jury that the public's attitude towards banks and bankers is not on trial.

"Whatever prejudices you might have for or against bankers you must leave at the courtroom door or the jury room door," the judge said.

FitzPatrick pleaded not guilty to 10 charges over the Maple 10 loans and separately was found not guilty by direction of the judge on six charges related to the Quinn loans.

Whelan and McAteer pleaded not guilty to all 16 counts of providing unlawful financial assistance.The charges have been brought under section 60 of the Companies Act, the first time anyone has been prosecuted for that offence in Ireland.

Whelan was also found not guilty by the judge's direction of being privy to the fraudulent alteration of loan facility letters.

In their deliberations, the jury has also been warned to ignore a number of positions put forward during the trial.

Judge Nolan said the attitude or actions of Ireland's financial regulator were totally irrelevant, as was the involvement of city of London investment bank Morgan Stanley, which completed the unwinding of the Quinn shares, complex trading derivatives called Contracts for Difference (CfDs).

He also warned that the defence of Anglo having legal advice for the deal was irrelevant.

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