One of the biggest trials in Irish legal history gets under way tomorrow when three former bankers face charges of trying to inflate the share price of the now-defunct rogue lender Anglo Irish Bank.
The charges are linked to alleged loans of €451m (£350m) to the family of bankrupt Fermanagh former billionaire Sean Quinn and a golden circle of 10 clients hand-picked to invest in stock to prop up the share price.
Sean FitzPatrick, the former chairman and one-time chief executive, former finance director Willie McAteer, and former chief financial officer Pat Whelan face a total of 16 charges.
The three men are due before Court 19 of the Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin for a trial that is expected to last six months – one of the longest-running criminal trials in Irish history.
FitzPatrick (64), of Whitshed Road, Greystones, Co Wicklow; McAteer (62), of Auburn Villas, Rathgar, south Dublin; and Whelan (50), of Coast Road, Malahide, Co Dublin, have been charged with 16 counts of providing unlawful financial assistance to individuals in July 2008 to buy shares in the bank.
They are expected to enter pleas of not guilty before the trial begins.
Anglo's share price reached an all-time high of €17.53 (£14.41) in 2007, but later that year the credit crunch began to bite and rumours spread in financial circles that Anglo was in trouble.
The share price collapsed in 2008 and Mr Quinn's behind-the-scenes build-up of a 25% stake in Anglo was revealed. FitzPatrick was declared bankrupt in 2012.
The bank was ultimately nationalised in January 2009. The bailout cost the Irish taxpayer €29bn (£24bn). Anglo was subsequently rebranded the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation and then liquidated last year.
STORY SO FAR
Anglo Irish Bank's share price collapsed in 2008 and a secret stock market gamble by Sean Quinn unravelled. The one-time tycoon had quietly built up a 25% stake in the bank using contracts for difference – which shields the identity of the buyer. The deals allow investors to gamble on a share price rise, reaping huge gains. If the value falls, however, the investor can lose massively.