Friday 20 October 2017

Evidence in Sean FitzPatrick trial delayed as legal issues needs to be ‘thrashed out’

Former Anglo Irish Bank chairman Sean FitzPatrick has pleaded not guilty. Photo: Courtpix
Former Anglo Irish Bank chairman Sean FitzPatrick has pleaded not guilty. Photo: Courtpix
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

The jury in the trial of former Anglo Irish Bank chairman Sean FitzPatrick for misleading auditors has been told a legal issue needs to be “thrashed out” in their absence and has been sent home until Monday week.

When the jury came to court this morning it was told by Judge John Aylmer that an unforeseen issue had arisen.

“This has led to a change in plan as to the order in which witnesses will be called. As a consequence, there will be no evidence today,” he said.

The judge initially told jurors he intended calling them back on Monday.

But within minutes of informing them of this, Judge Aylmer had to recall jurors to advise them of a lengthier delay.

He told the jury that it had always been anticipated there would be three significant periods where legal issues would need to be “thrashed out” in their absence. One of those issues has been dealt with.

“It has been decided to deal with the second matter now,” he said.

Judge Aylmer said he hoped this did not cause jurors any inconvenience and asked them to return on November 14.

“Unfortunately I couldn’t give you notice of this until now,” he said.

The jury was selected at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court between September 21 and 26, but has only heard an opening statement from the prosecution and has not heard any evidence to date.

Opening the case on Thursday, prosecution counsel Dominic McGinn said the State’s case was that Mr FitzPatrick (68) failed to disclose multi-million euro directors’ loans used for property investments between 2002 and 2007.

During that period he borrowed sums ranging from between €10m and in the region of €100m from Anglo, counsel said.

Mr McGinn alleged Mr FitzPatrick failed to disclose these loans as he was obliged to do under the Companies Act.

Mr FitzPatrick, of Whitshed Road, Greystones, Co Wicklow, has pleaded not guilty to 27 charges he is facing.

The 27 charges include 21 counts of making misleading, false or deceptive statements to the auditors of Anglo Irish Bank, contrary to section 197 of the Companies Act 1990.

The offences allegedly occurred on dates between 2002 and 2007 and carry a maximum five year jail term.

Five counts allege Mr FitzPatrick did not disclose to auditors Ernst & Young arrangements temporarily reducing the balance of loans to him or persons connected to him at the end of the financial year.

The reductions cited ranged in size from €4.3m to €88.9m.

Six counts allege Mr FitzPatrick failed to advise auditors of the need to revise financial statements after each temporary arrangement concluded.

The sums involved in the arrangements cited ranged from €700,000 and €119.8m.

Four counts allege Mr FitzPatrick failed to disclose the full extent of loans received by him or persons connected to him from Anglo, ranging in value between €5.5m and €23.8m.

Six counts allege Mr FitzPatrick failed to inform auditors of an arrangement between Anglo and Irish Nationwide regarding loans he received from Irish Nationwide.

He also faces six charges of giving false information contrary to section 242 of the Companies Act 1990 on dates between 2002 and 2008.

The offences carry a maximum jail term of three years.

All of these counts relate to Mr FitzPatrick allegedly producing financial statements giving a false figure for the aggregate value of loans to directors of Anglo.

It is alleged the amounts given included the total amount borrowed by all Anglo directors apart from Mr FitzPatrick.

As a result they would have given a figure for directors’ loans that was “false and misleading”, it is claimed.

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