Sunday 4 December 2016

Anglo verdict: McAteer and Bowe found guilty of €7.2bn fraud on the markets

Declan Brennan and Conor Gallagher

Published 01/06/2016 | 16:41

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

Two former executives from Anglo Irish Bank have been found guilty of conspiring to defraud the public in 2008.

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On day 84 of the longest running criminal trial in the State's history the jury at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court returned the majority verdicts. The verdict comes after 38 hours of deliberations, the longest jury deliberations in the history of the state.

Former head of finance at Anglo Irish Bank Willie McAteer. Photo: Courtpix
Former head of finance at Anglo Irish Bank Willie McAteer. Photo: Courtpix

The jury is still considering charges against two Irish Life and Permanent bankers who were alleged to have taken part in the €7.2 billion conspiracy.

Anglo's former head of capital markets John Bowe (52) and the bank's then finance director Willie McAteer (65) were on trial accused of conspiring to mislead investors, depositors and lenders about the true health of Anglo.

Judge Martin Nolan remanded the two men on continuing bail until Friday after hearing there was no objection to bail. “Obviously you don't have to be here tomorrow gentlemen,” the judge told McAteer and Bowe. There was no reaction from the men when the verdicts were read out.

Jurors will continue deliberations tomorrow on charges against former chief executive of Irish Life & Permanent (ILP) Denis Casey (56) and his finance director in 2008 Peter Fitzpatrick (63)

Former Anglo executive Denis Casey. Pic:Mark Condren
Former Anglo executive Denis Casey. Pic:Mark Condren

Bowe from Glasnevin, Dublin, McAteer of Greenrath, Tipperary Town, Co. Tipperary, Casey from Raheny, Dublin and Fitzpatrick of Convent Lane, Portmarnock, Dublin all pleaded not guilty 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 State's case was 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 alleged that the entire objective of the scheme was to mislead anybody reading Anglo's accounts by artificially inflating the customer deposits number from €44bn to €51bn, a difference of 16%.

Former Anglo Irish head of capital markets John Bowe
Former Anglo Irish head of capital markets John Bowe

Lawyers for the Anglo accused had argued that their clients believed that the deposits were real deposits and were accounted for correctly on Anglo's balance sheet and so no fraud was carried out.

The prosecution argued that there was no commercial substance to the transactions and their only purpose was to deceive.

“They take a vast amount of time and trouble and they amount to one large candy floss whose only conceivable purpose is to bolster up and artificially inflate the Anglo customer deposit. That is manifestly dishonest and was done with dishonest intent,” Paul O'Higgins SC told the jury.

Lawyers defending the former ILP executives argued that their clients had no control over how Anglo would account for the deposits and had no intention to mislead the public.

Former director of finance of Irish Life and Permanent Peter Fitzpatrick. Photo: Courtpix
Former director of finance of Irish Life and Permanent Peter Fitzpatrick. Photo: Courtpix

The prosecution argued that it was inconceivable that high level banking professionals, who were trained accountants and in the business of supervising the financial industry and doing deals, wouldn't have known “full well what Anglo were doing”.

Una Ní Raifeartaigh SC, for the DPP, said that if Anglo did not present the deal in the way they did, and so misleading the public, there would have been no point in doing the deal at all.

She told the jurors: “These are not stupid or inexperienced people. These are experienced bankers. Do you find it reasonably credible, that they did this deal, thinking Anglo was doing it as an exercise in futility?”

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