Saturday 1 October 2016

Jury in FitzPatrick trial told not to search social media

Published 15/04/2015 | 02:30

Former Anglo Irish Bank chairman Sean FitzPatrick, of Whitshed Road, Greystones, Co Wicklow, at court yesterday
Former Anglo Irish Bank chairman Sean FitzPatrick, of Whitshed Road, Greystones, Co Wicklow, at court yesterday

A childcare worker, property manager, computer programmer, engineer, chef, housewife and several people who are unemployed have been sworn in to serve on the jury in the trial of former Anglo chairman Sean FitzPatrick.

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Yesterday more than 30 people were excused from jury service and a small number of people were challenged by the prosecution and defence teams in the trial of Mr FitzPatrick, who has pleaded not guilty to 27 counts under the Companies Acts 1990.

Those challenged by the prosecution included a man whom the court heard had "no difficulties" reaching an impartial decision despite knowing several people on a casual basis - through a social club - who may testify in the trial.

A jury of six men and six women were sworn in yesterday after trial judge Mary Ellen Ring, who will be hearing the case, gave the potential jury members a number of warnings.

Mr FitzPatrick has denied failing to disclose to Anglo's auditors, Ernst and Young, the true value of loans given to him or people connected to him between 2002 and 2007, while he was an officer of the bank.

The trial, which begins next Monday is expected to last up to May 29, but may conclude before then.

The jury panel heard that up to 80 witnesses may give evidence in the trial, including several witnesses from Anglo Irish Bank such as Fintan Drury, Anne Heraty, Donal O'Connor, Matt Moran, Peter Butler and Tiarnan O'Mahony.

Other witnesses from Ernst and Young, Irish Nationwide Building Society, the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE), as well as gardaí, are listed to appear, the panel heard.

Mr FitzPatrick is charged with 27 offences under the 1990 Companies Act, all of which he denies. Yesterday he pleaded not guilty to 21 counts in which he is accused of making a misleading, false or deceptive statement to auditors contrary to Section 197 of the Companies Act 1990.

The 66-year-old, with an address at Whitshed Road, Greystones, Co Wicklow, also pleaded not guilty to six counts in which he is accused of furnishing false information contrary to Section 242 of the Companies Act 1990.

In particulars, Mr FitzPatrick is accused of failing to disclose to Anglo's auditors, Ernst and Young, the true amount of loans to him or people connected with him.

The prosecution, led by Paul O'Higgins SC, claims he authorised arrangements to ensure that the balance of those loans would be reduced or appear to be reduced at the end of the bank's financial year and failed to tell the auditors about those arrangements.

He is accused of failing to tell the auditors about arrangements between Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide Building Society in connection with loans to him by Irish Nationwide.

Mr FitzPatrick is also accused of producing financial statements about the value of loans to Anglo's directors, which failed to include the true amounts outstanding by him to the bank.

Judge Ring directed the jurors not to discuss the case with anyone else.

She also directed the jury not to "go searching" on the internet, to stay away from Twitter and other social media in respect of any matters relating to the trial.

How the jury was selected

"Special categories" of people were excluded from serving on the jury in the trial of Sean FitzPatrick, including:

Anyone who expressed themselves - on the internet or in public - on issues concerning Anglo Irish Bank, the banking crisis or on bankers in general such that it might embarrass them if their views became known.

Anyone with strong feelings about the banking crisis or who had been personally affected in a way that would affect their ability to be impartial.

People who hold such strong views about Anglo Irish Bank that they believed they could not deal with the case fairly.

Anyone who held shares in Anglo, who was a customer of Anglo or was employed by the bank or who directly held shares in any other financial institution or was employed by another financial institution.

Anyone who was connected with auditors, Ernst and Young.

Anyone who worked as an auditor or accountant or who was subject to the professional bodies connected with those bodies.

Irish Independent

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