Former Anglo Irish Bank executives Pat Whelan and William McAteer would have been jailed for two years each had they not been suitable for community service, a Dublin judge has warned.
The ex-bankers were yesterday sentenced to 240 hours community service each for their role in a €450m (£356m) illegal loan for shares deal involving the so-called Maple 10.
Judge Martin Nolan, sitting at Dublin's Circuit Criminal Court, told the pair to "enjoy your community service" as he handed down the longest sentence he could impose.
He said he should have specified at their sentence hearing in April that if community service was not viable they faced jail.
"Both gentlemen are described as suitable for community service," he added, imposing "the maximum 240 hours to be done in the next year in lieu of the sentence of two years".
Judge Nolan had previously revealed it would be unjust to jail them as a State agency, the Financial Regulator, has led them into error and illegality throughout the plan.
Whelan (52) of Coast Road, Malahide, and McAteer (63), of Auburn Villas, Rathgar, both nodded at the judge and smiled before they left the criminal courts complex without making any comment.
"More than three months earlier the men became the first people in the history of the Republic to be convicted of breaching section 60 of the companies act by illegally lending money to Anglo's top ten customers to buy shares in the bank. They were also found not guilty of making €169m (£133m) worth of unlawful loans to six members of the family of Fermanagh businessman Sean Quinn.
Their co-accused, Anglo's former chairman Sean FitzPatrick, walked free from the court a day earlier after been acquitted of all 16 charges. The 66-year-old, of Whitshed Road, Greystones, Co Wicklow, has since launched a legal challenge against a ruling that he is not entitled to the legal costs of his defence in the trial.
While convicted of 10 counts, Judge Martin spared Whelan and McAteer from jail and launched a scathing attack on the role of the Republic's then Financial Regulator Pat Neary and his number two Con Horan for "giving a green light" to the deal.