Courts

Thursday 31 July 2014

Anglo trial: Legal advice about loans 'irrelevant', court told

Dearbhail McDonald

Published 05/03/2014|13:24

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From left, William McAteer; Sean Fitzpatrick and Pat Whelan
From left, William McAteer; Sean Fitzpatrick and Pat Whelan

THE jury in the trial of three former Anglo Irish Bank executives has been told that the issue of whether the bank obtained legal advice about the loans at the centre of the case is irrelevant to the issues to be decided in the trial.

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This follows a ruling made by trial judge Martin Nolan after several days of legal argument in the absence of the jury.

This afternoon Judge Nolan told the 15 strong jury that as a result of a ruling made by him, the issue of whether legal advice was given or taken is not relevant to the issues to be decided by them.

He told them not to speculate about what steps were taken or what any legal advice might have been.

"This issue is simply not relevant to the guilt or innocence of the accused on the charges before you" said Judge Nolan, adding that he has ruled that this ruling applies to any past reference in evidence to legal advice .

Judge Nolan has also ruled that there will be no further questioning of any witness in relation to the issue of legal advice.

Earlier, a former Anglo Irish Bank director told the trial that she understood that office of the Financial Regulator was "kept apprised" of a scheme to unwind businessman Sean Quinn's secret stake in the bank.

Anne Heraty, a non executive director at Anglo, also said she believed that there was a legal impediment preventing the bank from publicly disclosing the existence of Mr Quinn's stake.

This afternoon, Ms Heraty told Dublin's Circuit Criminal Court that she believed Anglo could not legally disclose Mr Quinn's stake as he had built it up through Contracts for Difference and his stake was not a direct shareholding as his CFDs represented an interest in the shares.

Ms Heraty is giving evidence in the trial of former Anglo chairman Sean FitzPatrick (65), from Greystones, Co Wicklow; former head of risk William McAteer (63), of Rathgar in Dublin; and Patrick Whelan (51), of Malahide, Co Dublin, have pleaded not guilty to 16 charges of unlawfully providing financial assistance to individuals for the purpose of buying shares in Anglo Irish Bank in 2008.

Mr Whelan, Anglo's former head of lending in Ireland, also denies seven charges of being privy to the fraudulent alteration of a loan facility letter.

Ms Heraty said that she was relying, in her belief and understanding, was based on information being brought to the board.

Yesterday Ms Heraty told the Circuit Criminal Court that she was horrified when she heard bankrupt tycoon Sean Quinn held a quarter of the bank through secret shares, a court.

Anne Heraty said that a deal which resulted in 10 "high net worth individuals" buying some of Mr Quinn's holding may not have been the "most ideal" solution to the problem.

Ms Heraty said she believed the Maple 10 issue – the name given to 10 businessmen lent €45m to buy Anglo shares – had been dealt with satisfactorily with the support of the Financial Regulator and the Central Bank.

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