Friday 24 October 2014

'Enjoy community service': former Anglo pair avoid jail

Ex-bankers sentenced for roles in loan for shares deal

Sarah Stack

Published 01/08/2014 | 02:30

FORMER Anglo Irish Bank directors Pat Whelan and William McAteer would have been jailed for two years each had they not been suitable for community service, a judge warned.

The ex-bankers were sentenced to 240 hours community service each for their role in a €450m illegal loan for shares deal involving the so-called Maple 10.

Judge Martin Nolan, sitting at Dublin's Circuit Criminal Court, told the pair to "enjoy your community service" as he handed down the longest sentence he could impose.

He said he should have specified at their sentence hearing in April that if community service was not viable they faced jail.

"Both gentlemen are described as suitable for community service," he added, imposing "the maximum 240 hours to be done in the next year in lieu of the sentence of two years".

The judge had previously revealed it would be unjust to jail them as a state agency, the Financial Regulator, had led them into error and illegality throughout the plan.

He said he believed that the Regulator had effectively given the "green light" to allow the illegal purchase of Anglo shares.

The probation service will decide what jobs the men will do, from graffiti cleaning or helping the homeless and those in need.

History

Mr Whelan (52), of Coast Road, Malahide, Co Dublin, and Mr McAteer (63), of Auburn Villas, Rathgar, south Dublin, both nodded at the judge and smiled before they left the criminal courts complex without making any comment.

More than three months earlier, the men became the first people in the history of the State to be convicted of breaching section 60 of the companies act by illegally lending €45m to Anglo's top 10 customers to buy shares in the bank. They were also found not guilty of making €169m worth of unlawful loans to six members of Sean Quinn's family.

Their co-accused, Anglo's former chairman Sean FitzPatrick, walked free from the court a day earlier after been acquitted of all 16 charges. The 66-year-old, of Whitshed Road, Greystones, Co Wicklow, has since launched a legal challenge against a ruling that he is not entitled to his legal costs.

The three had been charged with illegally lending money to the bank's top clients and six members of Sean Quinn's family in a bid to unravel the former tycoon's secret stake in the bank.

The loans were arranged between July 14 and 30, 2008, six months before Anglo was nationalised. It was later rebranded as the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC).

The loan-for-shares deal involved unwinding Mr Quinn's 29pc holding, built up through contracts for difference (cfds) via a Portuguese registered company, Bazzely Ltd, which he set up as an investment engine for his family for "tax efficient" purposes. The developers included well-known names like Paddy McKillen, Gerry Gannon and Joe O'Reilly.

The prosecution claimed the case was an abuse of company law, while the defence teams argued the men had taken all steps to ensure it was legal.

Irish Independent

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