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Former bank chairman is acquitted of fraud charge

By Ed Carty

A judge has told former banker and bankrupt Sean Fitzpatrick he is a free man after directing a jury to find him not guilty of fraud.

The ex-chairman of the defunct Anglo Irish Bank had been on trial for the last 126 days accused of "artificially reducing" personal loans for a few weeks around the end of the financial year so their full value was not shown in accounts.

After the longest criminal trial in Irish history, the former bank boss, who always denied wrongdoing and pleaded not guilty, returned to the Circuit Criminal Court in Dublin for one last time yesterday to hear the formal acquittal.

The Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement, set up in 2001 to crack down on white collar crime, has said it fully accepts a judge's criticism of its investigation into the former Anglo chief's loans.

The watchdog accepted witnesses were coached when giving statements during the investigation and that their evidence was contaminated.

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