THREE former executives of the now defunct Anglo Irish Bank have entered not guilty pleas to 16 counts of providing unlawful financial assistance to 16 individuals to buy shares in the bank.
Jury selection is currently underway this morning at the Criminal Courts of Justice (CCJ) for the trial of three former bankers.
Sean FitzPatrick, 65, from Whitshed Road Greystones in Co Wicklow, William McAteer, 63, from Auburn Villas, Rathgar in Dublin, and Pat Whelan, 51, of Coast Road, Malahide in Dublin, are each charged with 16 counts of providing unlawful assistance to 16 individuals in July 2008 to buy shares in the former Anglo Irish Bank Corporation Plc.
Mr Whelan is separately facing an additional seven charges alleging he was privy to the fraudulent alteration of documents, namely facility letters to seven people.
It is alleged that the fraudulent alteration consisted of the insertion into the facility letter of a date of 17th July 2008, and the variation of the terms and conditions in such a manner so as to be more favourable to the borrowers and less favourable to the bank.
The men, who entered courtroom number 7 shortly before 10 am, were formally arraigned this morning, having arrived at the CCJ at 8.30am.
The trio stood side by side in the dock and, when the 16 separate charges were put to them by the court registrar, they each said "not guilty".
Mr Whelan replied "not guilty" to each of the seven additional charges against him.
It took almost 15 minutes for the charges and particulars of the alleged offences to be read out.
The jury selection is the first formal stage of the trial which will begin next week.
Under new legislation brought in last year to facilitate lengthy trials, 15 jurors will be sworn in to hear the trial instead of the standard 12 jurors.
Although 12 jurors will ultimately decide on the innocence or guilt of the men, three extra jurors will be present throughout the trial in the event that one or more jurors can not continue.
The trial, to be heard before Circuit Court Judge Martin Nolan, is estimated to last for several months.
Jury summonses were sent to 1,500 people in advance of today's selection process.
And hundreds of people turned up at the CCJ this morning for jury service.
Judge Nolan previously heard that the case involves 24 million documents and about 800 witness statements.
Given the anticipated level of public interest in the trial, a vacant courtroom at the CCJ will be used to accommodate members of the public who wish to attend the trial.
Members of the public will be able to follow the proceedings via a video link, with seating in the main courtroom reserved for legal teams, witnesses and media.