Thursday 27 July 2017

Wife's pension pot targeted

Recovery official could seek spouse's half-share of €3.4m

Dearbhail McDonald and Emmet Oliver

THE court official charged with recovering the assets of ex-banker Sean FitzPatrick could target his wife's share of his €3.4m pension pot.

The Irish Independent has learned that the official may seek to recover Catriona FitzPatrick's €1.7m interest in her husband's pension, if it can be shown that she was never entitled to it in the first place.

The court official, Chris Lehane, technically known as the official assignee in bankruptcy, will also investigate whether Mr FitzPatrick used his own money to protect members of his family who also had loans with the bank.

Yesterday, Mr Lehane was given the go-ahead to divide up the assets of the former Anglo chief executive.

Documents furnished to the High Court revealed that Mr FitzPatrick had a net income of just €188 per month.

A statement of affairs, provided to the court as part of Mr FitzPatrick's bankruptcy proceedings yesterday, also disclosed that the former bank chief had debts of more than €145m, compared to assets of just over €47m.

The disgraced ex-bank boss looked relaxed as the High Court passed an order to allow an official to proceed with the action.

Mr FitzPatrick, who was declared bankrupt in July, owes state-owned Anglo about €110m.

His assets include his share of his family home in Greystones, Co Wicklow, his pension, his car and shares in various foreign properties.

Barristers for Mr Lehane told a judge that Mr FitzPatrick was co-operating and that he was consenting to the case going ahead.

Anglo Irish Bank revealed earlier that it was not proceeding with a motion to have a trustee, an insolvency practitioner, appointed in place of Mr Lehane to realise Mr FitzPatrick's estate.

No application was made for costs.

Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne said: "I'm making an order passing the statutory sitting this morning."

Regrets

Dressed in a grey suit, Mr FitzPatrick slipped into Court Five in Dublin's Four Courts, early for the brief hearing.

He made no comment when asked if he had any regrets or worries as he left through a rear exit into a waiting Jaguar.

Earlier, Mr FitzPatrick's Senior Counsel, Mark Sanfey, told the High Court that his client had submitted his statement of affairs for the setting of a statutory sitting passing.

Ken Bredin BL, for the official assigned to oversee the asset disposal, replied: "Mr Fitzpatrick is co-operating and we are consenting to it."

Mr Lehane will now realise the assets and try to recover as much as possible for creditors, who also include Mrs FitzPatrick, Allied Irish Bank, Bank of Scotland (Ireland) and Friends First.

Mr FitzPatrick resigned from Anglo in December 2008 amid a storm over directors' loans.

The ex-banker is also at the centre of a massive fraud and corporate mismanagement investigation by the gardai and watchdog Paul Appleby, the director of corporate enforcement.

Mr FitzPatrick was arrested in March and questioned about a so-called bed-and-breakfast transfer of €7.45bn in deposits between Irish Life & Permanent and Anglo in 2008.

The scheme was allegedly devised to effectively conceal the crumbling state of the bank's books. No charges have been brought.

Irish Independent

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