Gardai get court orders to seize new Anglo records
Published 21/04/2010 | 05:00
GARDA fraud officers have obtained court orders allowing them to seize further documentation from scandal-hit Anglo Irish Bank, the Irish Independent has learned.
The orders were granted on a number of occasions in recent months, informed sources said.
In most cases the records were sought after Anglo officials and other witnesses co-operating with the garda fraud inquiry referred to specific documents while being questioned.
It is understood the most recent order granted relates to documents connected to Anglo's receipt of €7.45bn of deposits from Irish Life & Permanent at the end of September 2008, just after the banking guarantee was brought in.
The lodgment served to flatter the now-nationalised bank's financial standing at a critical time -- the end of its financial year.
The controversial deposit is one of three key areas of investigation for the gardai and the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement.
The others centre around former Anglo chairman Sean FitzPatrick hiding up to €122m of bank loans from shareholders for a period of up to eight years, and the bank lending €451m to the so-called 'golden circle' of developers to take a 10pc stake in it.
More than 100 people have already been voluntarily questioned as part of the probe.
Mr FitzPatrick (61) and the bank's former finance director Willie McAteer (59) were also arrested and questioned last month.
Large amounts of records were seized when gardai first raided the bank in February of last year.
But officers have had to secure further documentary evidence as the investigation has proceeded.
Gardai had to obtain the district court orders to legally obtain the extra documentation. Although the bank has been cooperating with the garda inquiry, its officials cannot simply hand over documents unless certain legal procedures are followed.
The orders were obtained following applications made under Section 52 of the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act 2001.
Both Mr FitzPatrick and Mr McAteer were questioned under Section 10 of the same act, which relates to false accounting. Both were released without charge.
Anglo's new management team, led by Australian Mike Aynsley, recently revealed that the bank had made a €12.7bn pre-tax loss last year -- the worst set of results in Irish corporate history.
The disastrous set of figures came as Anglo wrote down more than €15bn of bad loans and other toxic assets.
Mr Aynsley and his advisers are working with the Government on a dramatic restructuring plan, which Brussels has demanded as part of the lender's bailout. Taxpayers have already pumped €12.3bn into the ailing bank, but Finance Minister Brian Lenihan recently warned that the total bill could top €22bn.