Sunday 25 June 2017

'Impunity' for FitzPatrick as bankers are jailed

Anglo a 'very, very sick bank' which took a 'very dishonest approach to Revenue' - judge

Former Anglo Irish Bank chairman Sean FitzPatrick had escaped punishment while employees of the bank were facing jail for altering accounts being sought by Revenue, a judge was told yesterday
Former Anglo Irish Bank chairman Sean FitzPatrick had escaped punishment while employees of the bank were facing jail for altering accounts being sought by Revenue, a judge was told yesterday
Tiarnan O'Mahoney, Sentence: 3 years
Bernard Daly - Sentence: 2 years
Aoife Maguire - Sentence: 18 months
Judge Patrick McCartan

Conor Gallagher

Former Anglo Irish Bank chairman Sean FitzPatrick had escaped punishment while employees of the bank were facing jail for altering accounts being sought by Revenue, a judge was told yesterday.

Former chief operations officer Tiarnan O'Mahoney, former company secretary Bernard Daly and former assistant manager Aoife Maguire are all beginning custodial sentences.

They were found guilty by a jury at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on Thursday on all charges, after nearly seven hours deliberations and a two month trial.

But counsel for Daly, Sean Guerin SC, asked the judge in sentencing yesterday to bear in mind that the case against Mr FitzPatrick, who has never been charged in relation to the fraud, was stronger than the one against his client.

He asked Judge McCartan to consider "the impunity that Mr FitzPatrick has been fortunate enough to meet in these matters."

O'Mahoney, who was second in command at the bank, received a three-year sentence while Daly, who held the more junior position, was sentenced to two years. Maguire was the lowest ranking of the three and received 18 months.

The three accused appeared tearful throughout the sentencing hearing, and as they were lead away by prison guards.

The court heard that there is no statutory maximum prison term for the charge of conspiracy as it is a common law offence.

However Judge Patrick McCartan indicated he would treat the maximum term for all offences as five years, as they all related to the same scheme.

Judge McCartan said it was clear the accused engaged in a deliberate and ongoing fraud to stop the accounts of their employer, Mr FitzPatrick, from being disclosed to Revenue.

The judge called Anglo a "very sick bank" which "took a very, very dishonest approach to Revenue."

He said the accused's actions were "done out of misplaced loyalty, but were still dishonest and were against all good banking principles and practices".

The judge said it was a very difficult case to sentence because the accused had impeccably good characters.

Judge McCartan said the balance was between the personal positions of the accused and the public interest. "Banking must be based on trust and honesty; It cannot work otherwise. And the Revenue plays a crucial and central role in the society in which we live."

Referring to the motives for concealing the accounts, Judge McCartan asked: "Why should Mr FitzPatrick or anyone on his behalf want to hide accounts unless there was potential embarrassment to him?"

Culture

Brendan Grehan SC, for O'Mahoney, said that his client was in line to succeed Mr FitzPatrick as CEO of the bank but lost out to David Drumm who came from the lending side.

Counsel said O'Mahoney came from the "more prudential" treasury side of Anglo and was "deemed not to fit in with the culture of the bank".

The judge praised the integrity of the IT staff in Anglo who refused to delete the accounts, and decided to archive them instead, leading to their production in evidence during the trial.

He also praised bank employee Zita Vance who refused when asked by O'Mahoney if she would delete an account.

Daly (67) of Collins Avenue West, Whitehall, Dublin, O'Mahoney (56) of Glen Pines, Enniskerry, Co Wicklow and Maguire (62) of Rothe Abbey, South Circular Road, Kilmainham, Dublin had pleaded not guilty to seven charges.

The charges alleged that in 2003 and 2004 they conspired to hide or omit accounts, connected to Mr FitzPatrick from Anglo's Core Banking System or from documentation provided to Revenue, who were conducting an investigation into bogus non-resident accounts which may have been liable for Deposit Interest Retention Tax (DIRT).

There was a delay in taking the verdict on Thursday because of an anonymous phone call to the office of the DPP saying that the jury foreman's wife was "very friendly" with Maguire.

Judge McCartan decided it was a hoax call after the jury foreman denied the claim.

Irish Independent

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