Monday 22 December 2014

Anglo trial jury told they’re ‘not there to bay for blood’

Sarah Stack

Published 10/04/2014 | 15:00

From Left to right, Patrick Whelan, Sean Fitpatrick and Willie McAteer

THE jury on the trial of three Anglo Irish Bank executives have been told they are not there to bay for the blood of the mob.

Defence barrister Brendan Grehan said the seven men and seven women must divorce themselves from how people who have not heard the evidence are thinking.

The barrister said the big elephant in the room is that there is nobody who has not been affected in some way, shape or form by the collapse of the banks in Ireland, with people angered by cuts to special needs assistants and home care packages.

Mr Grehan, for Pat Whelan, told the jury a spectator had been in the court yesterday “to give them a fair trial and hang them”.

“It is vital that you divorce yourself from that kind of thinking, from not thinking you are some how here to satisfy the baying for blood of the mob,” he said in his closing submission.

 “It’s not about the collapse of banking in Ireland and seeing three men in the dock as a way of getting vengeance for it.”

Mr Grehan, for Pat Whelan, said the case did not centre on the collapse of the banks, it was about the provision of loans under 1963 legislation which has never been prosecuted before

“That’s what its about, what you need to focus on devoid of pressure from outside this courtroom, they have not heard all the evidence yo uhave” he added.

Mr Grehan also said his client, who was head of lending in Ireland for Anglo, did not have an inkling the loan for shares deal was illegal, describing it as a perfectly valid commercial transaction.

Mr FitzPatrick (65), from Greystones, Co Wicklow, Pat Whelan (51), of Malahide, Co Dublin and William McAteer (63), of Rathgar in Dublin all deny 10 counts of providing unlawful financial assistance to net worth Anglo clients – known as the so-called Maple 10 - in July 2008 to buy shares in Anglo.

The loan-for-shares deal involved unwinding Mr Quinn’s secret 29pc stake in the bank, build up through contracts for difference (cfds).

Mr Whelen and Mr McAteer also deny six counts each of providing unlawful financial assistance to six members of the Quinn family.

Earlier, State prosecutors claimed the scheme was obviously and spectacularly not in the ordinary course of business.

Closing his case, Paul O’Higgins SC said a striking part of the case is that €60m loans to 10 high net worth customers was a “done deal” notwithstanding the bank’s credit standing.

He alleged said the borrowings were for the benefit of the bank, not the borrowers, and the deal carried out to shore up anticipated problems with Anglo’s share price.

The prosecution barrister said if the three co-accused knew the loans were illegal under section 60 of the Companies Act they should have said, and if they did not know they should have known.

“Ignorance of the law is no excuse,” he said.

Judge Martin Nolan yesterday directed Mr FitzPatrick was not guilty of the six charges relating to the Quinns, while Mr Whelan has been found not guilty of seven charges in connection with a facility letter.

The ex-banker had denied the charges which alleged he was privy to the fraudulent alteration of loan facility letters to seven individuals.

Mr O’Higgins said everything in the case was “topsy turvy” and claimed documentation supporting the loans were bogus.

“The prosecution case is that almost everything about this scheme makes it a scheme obviously and spectacularly not in the ordinary course of business,” he said.

The trial, which is in its tenth week at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, continues with closing submissions from defence barristers.

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