Belfast Telegraph

Anglo Irish Bank trial: Major setback for Quinns after verdict on vast bank loans

By Dearbhail McDonald and Sarah Stack

The family of businessman Sean Quinn have suffered a major setback in their €2.3bn claim against the Irish State after two bankers were convicted of providing illegal loans to the so-called Maple 10 — but cleared of providing illegal loans to the Quinns.

The Quinns claim that loans given to them by the former Anglo Irish Bank, as Mr Quinn's “spectacular punt” on Anglo shares failed, are illegal.

But yesterday the family suffered a setback in their civil case after a jury at Dublin's Circuit Criminal Court said former Anglo directors Pat Whelan and William McAteer were not guilty of giving €169m in illegal loans to Mr Quinn's wife Patricia and their five adult children — Sean jnr, and daughters Colette, Aoife, Brenda and Ciara.

The Quinns have vowed to “go on with the show” after the biggest white-collar trial in Irish history.

Sean FitzPatrick, Anglo's former chairman, walked free from court on Wednesday after he was cleared by trial judge Martin Nolan of permitting unlawful loans to the Quinns.

He was also acquitted by the jury of permitting illegal loans to a wealthy group of borrowers known as the Maple 10.

The jury yesterday convicted Mr Whelan, head of group risk at Anglo, and McAteer, group finance director and chief risk officer at the bank, on 10 counts each of providing €450m in illegal loans to the Maple 10 to buy shares in the bank. The two face up to five years in prison when they are sentenced later this month.

Last night the Quinns — whose assets are frozen — said the information they have garnered will be a huge help to them in their forthcoming legal cases, expected to last nine months in Dublin’s Commercial Court.

Their civil case against the IBRC (formerly Anglo), the Department of Finance, the Financial Regulator and the board of directors of Anglo Irish Bank has been on hold pending the trial.

“As we are now in our fourth year since the invalid appointment of a share receiver to our companies, and the criminal trial has now concluded, we will now be looking for a hearing date as soon as possible,” the family said in a statement. Mr Quinn's solicitor, son-in-law Niall McPartlin, said the family intended to “go on with the show”.

The Quinn family, from Fermanagh, will seek an early trial date now that the Anglo trial is in its final stages.

The tycoon, whose business interests stretched from hotels to insurance, had tried to multiply his fortune with a share price gamble using contracts for difference (CFDs).

The trades, at the time unregulated, allowed him to bet that the value of Anglo would continue to rise without physically owning the shares. Ultimately it did not and the trades, on 29% of Anglo's stock, cost him €2.4bn.

 Anglo stepped in several times when the bank became aware of the growing scale of the losses, offering Mr Quinn hundreds of millions to cover margin calls on the contracts.

By July 2008 a scheme was prepared to lend hundreds of millions to the Maple 10 clients and the Quinn family, all of whom would use the money to convert the CFDs into ordinary shares.

It was hoped it would stabilise the share price, the trial was told. The State argued that the lending was not in the ordinary course of business.

Anglo Irish bank: Ex-directors Pat Whelan and William McAteer found guilty of hatching Sean Quinn loans-for-shares plot

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