Courts

Saturday 26 July 2014

Jury loses member as FitzPatrick's counsel laments lack of note-taking

Dearbhail McDonald

Published 12/03/2014|02:30

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Michael O'Higgins. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Michael O'Higgins. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

THE Anglo trial has lost its first juror.

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The male juror was excused after six weeks by trial judge Martin Nolan.

The juror was excused because he knew a witness who was mentioned in court yesterday.

It's unfortunate, but these things can happen in any trial.

The juror was excused on the same day that one of the country's most senior regulators admitted he failed to take notes of some key events during 2008.

Con Horan was the 'second in command' at the Financial Regulator's office in July 2008 when the former Anglo Irish Bank implemented a loan-for-shares scheme to unwind businessman Sean Quinn's secret stake in the bank.

Mr Quinn had built up an indirect stake in the bank using Contracts for Difference (CFDs).

Mr Horan, former prudential director at the Financial Regulator, agreed that he was trained in the art of taking detailed notes.

It was, he told former Anglo chairman Sean FitzPatrick's Senior Counsel, Michael O'Higgins, a practice that had been in place for many years.

Why, lamented Mr O'Higgins, were there no notes of all the key conversations and critical phone calls in the case?

Mr Horan replied that contemporaneous notes were preferred. But he said that in July 2008, they were in the middle of a crisis and contemporaneous notes were not always maintained.

The notes, or absence of them and their meaning where they exist, have taken centre stage at the Anglo trial.

The jury heard that there were no notes of two "critical" meetings and phone calls between Mr Horan and David Drumm, Anglo's former CEO, days before the so-called Maple 10 transaction.

The jury did see notes of the minutes of a meeting of Ireland's pre-crisis "troika".

The Domestic Standing Group (DSG) was a triumvirate consisting of the regulator, the Central Bank and the Department of Finance.

The trial heard that the DSG considered finding a "domestic solution" on July 8, 2008, where the country's two main banks would take over Quinn's long-term CFD position through the establishment of an investment vehicle.

Mr Horan told Senior Counsel Brendan Grehan, representing former Anglo director Pat Whelan, that he didn't recall a phone call with Kevin Cardiff – former Department of Finance Secretary General – about whether there would be some lending by Anglo to fund the share purchase to the Maple 10.

But Mr Cardiff made a note of a DSG meeting, which stated – in relation to the High Net Worth Individuals – "some lending to them – likely short term".

The trial, with its revised, 14-strong jury, continues.

Irish Independent

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