Three former Anglo Irish Bank staff accused of conspiring to conceal or alter bank records found guilty on all counts
THREE former Anglo Irish Bank staff accused of conspiring to conceal or alter bank records have been found guilty on all counts by a jury at Dublin's Circuit Criminal Court.
Former company secretary, Bernard Daly (65) of Collins Avenue West, Whitehall, Dublin, former Chief Operations Officer Tiarnan O'Mahoney (54) of Glen Pines, Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow and Aoife Maguire (60) of Rothe Abbey, South Circular Road, Kilmainham, Dublin had pleaded not guilty to seven alleged offences committed in 2003 and 2004.
All three have been placed in custody pending sentence tomorrow, despite strong objections by their respective legal teams.
Ms Maguire wept as the guilty verdicts were reached.
The verdicts had been delayed following an anonymous phone call placed to the office of the DPP earlier today which led to an application to discharge the jury by Mr O'Mahoney's legal team.
That application was refused after trial Judge Patrick McCartan posed a question to the jury foreman who denied that his (the foreman's wife) knew Aoife Maguire.
The jury have been discharged for life.
It was alleged that the three had conspired to hide or omit accounts, connected to Mr FitzPatrick from Anglo's Core Banking System (CBS) 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).
All three were accused of conspiring to destroy, mutilate or falsify documents relating to accounts of John Peter Mr O’Toole, brother-in-law of Mr FitzPatrick, held at Anglo Irish Bank.
Mr Daly and Mr O’Mahoney are accused of furnishing a list of bank accounts in connection with tax that did not include Mr O’Toole’s. And Ms Maguire and Mr O’Mahoney are accused of conspiring to destroy the records of six accounts and defraud revenue. The accounts were listed in court as Lock Ltd/Suzie Ltd, Carnahalla Ltd/Suzie Ltd, Lock Ltd, Carnahalla Ltd, Triumvirate Properties Ltd and Sean FitzPatrick Trust/Crohan O’Shea Trust.The trial lasted eight weeks and involved witnesses from Revenue, The Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation and the now defunct bank. None of the accused called any evidence in their defence.
In his charge to the jury, trial judge Patrick McCartan told jurors that they could not make any inference from this. He said it's the right of the defence not to call evidence and it is not a sign of them “surrendering.”
The judge said the alleged offence of conspiracy occurred when the accused entered into an agreement to break the law. He said it does not matter if the bank accounts turned out later not to be liable for DIRT.
“The offence is the agreement to do it,” he said. “Whether it can be done is a secondary issue.”
He said evidence against the three was mostly circumstantial and there was little evidence of direct action. He said the circumstantial evidence is often the best evidence and compared it to the threads of a rope.
“One on its own it will give you no strength but if you begin to link them together you will have a strong rope,” he said.
Judge McCartan also told the jurors that if they have doubts about any of the prosecution witnesses they must treat their evidence in caution. He said if a witness is complicit in the alleged offending there is a human tendency to push the blame away from themselves.
The charges against the three were built around two separate allegations. Firstly that they omitted the name of Mr FitzPatrick's brother-in-law, John Peter O'Toole, from a list of non-resident accounts which was to be handed over to Revenue.
Secondly that they conspired to have Anglo's IT department delete six other accounts connected to Mr FitzPatrick from the bank's computer system.
The jury was told that in the late nineties Revenue were investigating bogus non-resident accounts which were liable for DIRT. Anglo told Revenue it held no such accounts.
However several people later came forward under a tax amnesty to say they held non-resident accounts in the bank. As a result Revenue decided to carry out a full audit of the bank in 2003.
O'Mahoney ordered that a task team be established to provide Revenue with lists of non-resident accounts as part of their investigation. This team was selected by Daly and it reported to him on a daily basis.
Maguire was appointed to the team but she worked in a separate office and reported only to Mr O'Mahoney. It was her job to find the files which Mr FitzPatrick did not want Revenue to see.
Mr FitzPatrick featured heavily throughout the trial although he was not called as a witness.
Counsel for Mr O'Mahoney compared him to the “the man on the grassy knoll” or “Macavity the Mystery Cat; his paw marks are everywhere but he’s nowhere to be seen.”
There were eight accounts connected to Mr FitzPatrick, the trial heard. They were Lock Ltd/Suzie Ltd, Carnahalla Ltd/Suzie Ltd, Lock Ltd, Carnahalla Ltd, Triumvirate Properties Ltd and Sean FitzPatrick Trust/Crohan O’Shea Trust as well as two accounts in the name of Mr O'Toole.
Counsel said there were unusual practices going on with the O’Toole account including that it was used to deal stock during the periods when bank directors were barred from trading.
There were also large sums of money transferred in and out of the account by Mr FitzPatrick near the time of the bank’s year end returns.
Anglo's then head of compliance Brian Gillespie said he was called in Mr FitzPatrick's office in 2003 and told the the O'Toole account was a real non-resident account and therefore shouldn't be disclosed to Revenue The witness said that he replied that he had to return it to the Revenue because it was within the scope of the investigation.
He said that Mr FitzPatrick told him he “was losing sleep” over the matter.
Mr Gillespie said that in another meeting Mr FitzPatrick mentioned the name “Denis O’Brien” and referred to him as “my mate Denis” in the context of accounts being given to Revenue. Mr Gillespie assured him that the account of the well-known businessman was not on any list.
He said that Mr FitzPatrick told him he was “being a bit naive.”
Mr Gillespie said he was also approached by Daly who asked him, in the context of the audit, if he would be prepared to delete an account if asked to do so by Mr FitzPatrick. Mr Gillespie said no and was re-assigned.
O'Mahoney approached the team leader Zita Vance (formerly Madden) and asked her to remove a name from the list to be given to Revenue.
Ms Vance told the trial: “When I left I sat and considered the request. That evening I rang Tiarnan directly. Again I can't quote the conversation exactly but the outcome was that I was no longer part of the project. I left the project the next day.”
Two Anglo IT staff gave evidence that Maguire had emailed them asking them to delete six accounts from the bank's computer system. She also asked them to change the name and address on another account in a way that wouldn't leave a trace.
The IT staff said they believed the order was coming from higher-up but they were uncomfortable with the idea of deleting the accounts and decided to archive them instead without telling Maguire. The archived accounts would appear to be deleted but would still be recoverable.
Mr FitzPatrick's PA Monica Kearney told the jury that she sent an email to O'Mahoney detailing four accounts numbers connected to Mr O'Toole which were to be deleted. This email was sent on the same day Revenue met with Anglo officials to tell them what accounts they wanted details on.