Friday 24 March 2017

Anglo trial: Jury sent home after deliberating for just over three hours

Left to right, William McAteer, Denis Casey, John Bowe, and Peter Fitzpatrick
Left to right, William McAteer, Denis Casey, John Bowe, and Peter Fitzpatrick

Declan Brennan

The jury in the trial of four former bankers accused of conspiracy to defraud in 2008 have been sent home after deliberating for just over three hours. Deliberations will resume tomorrow.

Four former executives from Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Life & Permanent (ILP) are alleged to have conspired to mislead investors about the true health of Anglo.

The twelve jurors emerged from the jury room into at four o'clock with some looking clearly flush faced. Judge Martin Nolan assured them that an issue with overheating in the jury room would be fixed.

He told them to go home and return today/tomorrow (THURS) to resume deliberations.

Peter Fitzpatrick (63) of Convent Lane, Portmarnock, Dublin, Denis Casey (56), from Raheny, Dublin, John Bowe (52) from Glasnevin, Dublin and Willie McAteer (65) of Greenrath, Tipperary Town, Co. Tipperary have all pleaded not (NOT) guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to conspiring together and with others to mislead investors by setting up a €7.2 billion circular transaction scheme between March 1st and September 30th, 2008 to bolster Anglo's balance sheet.

The prosecution case is that the four men were involved in a setting up a circular scheme of billion euro transactions where Anglo lent money to ILP and ILP sent the money back, via their assurance firm Irish Life Assurance, to Anglo.

The scheme was designed so that the deposits came from the assurance company and would be treated as customer deposits, which are considered a better measure of a bank's strength than inter-bank loans.

The €7.2 billion deposit was later accounted for in Anglo's preliminary results on December 3rd 2008 as part of Anglo's customer deposits figure. The prosecution say that the entire objective of the scheme was to mislead the public reading Anglo's accounts by artificially inflating the customer deposits number from €44bn to €51bn, a difference of 16%.

At the start of day 76 the jury received an index outlining the 545 exhibits that were opened to it during the trial. It also received a laptop, a searchable version of this index on two USB keys and multiple folders from all five legal teams providing hard copies of statements and certain transcripts of conversations.

Sinead McGrath BL, prosecuting, told the jurors that if there was something they wanted to see besides what's in their folders they can ask for it. She said that they were being quite cautious to ensure the jury only get exhibits that were opened to the trial.

The transcripts of telephone calls are also indexed on the list but the jury do not have the audio files as the only certain extracts were played during the trial. If they wish to hear these extracts they can ask and it will be played to them in open court.

On Tuesday the specially enlarged jury of 13 were reduced to the required number of twelve by a ballot which saw one juror excluded. The use of enlarged juries was introduced a number of years ago to manage particularly lengthy trials.

This trial is now the longest running criminal trial in the history of the State.

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