Developer to co-operate with Anglo fraud probe
Published 27/09/2011 | 05:00
A LEADING property developer will co-operate with a fraud investigation into loans he and nine others took out to buy shares in Anglo Irish Bank.
Naas District Court yesterday ordered Kildare property developer Gerry Conlan to make himself available as a witness in the ongoing fraud investigation.
Lawyers for Mr Conlan told the court he would be complying with the order.
The court heard Mr Conlan had previously "declined" to make himself available as a witness in the investigation.
Mr Conlan is one of the so-called 'Maple 10' group rounded up by Anglo chief David Drumm to buy the bank's shares before it collapsed in 2008.
The legal action was taken by a garda detective inspector attached to the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (OCDE), which is investigating the loan deals Anglo provided to some of its top clients to buy a chunk of shares owned by Sean Quinn in a desperate bid to stop the bank from collapsing.
The director of corporate enforcement, Paul Appleby, yesterday welcomed the outcome. This is the first time this body has used new powers in this investigation.
Others in the 'Maple 10' group included Gerry Gannon, of Gannon Homes, and Joe O'Reilly, who developed the Dundrum Shopping Centre.
The OCDE is investigating whether these transactions breached company law and could result in criminal prosecutions. It went to court using the new Criminal Justice Act provisions that came into law in August.
Mr Appleby's office began its investigation into the loans the day after Mr Drumm resigned from the bank in 2009.
Some of its officers, together with the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation, raided Anglo's head office in St Stephen's Green taking away boxes and files and other paperwork for potentially fraudulent activity.
The Maple 10 deal was a massive risk for Anglo as it involved the bank giving the investors loans they were not obliged to repay if the shares collapsed. The high stakes gamble was not disclosed to the bank's shareholders.
Two years on, the failure so far to bring any prosecutions has been criticised by High Court Judge Peter Kelly.
While the court heard yesterday that Mr Conlan had previous "declined" to co-operate with the ODCE, it is believed other members of the Maple 10 have been providing information. The ODCE is also separately investigating transactions around directors' loans at Anglo. The bank's former chairman Sean FitzPatrick and the former finance director Willie McAteer have both been questioned by the fraud squad over Anglo.
Earlier this year, the High Court heard the ODCE still wanted to interview 50 witnesses. Four files have been sent to the Director of Public Prosecution. Investigations are also examining the transfer of €7bn worth of deposits out of Irish Life & Permanent and into Anglo to boost the books in September 2008.
Separately, Anglo has accused Mr Drumm of acting fraudulently when he ran the bank and specifically accused him of committing fraud in connection with the Maple 10 investors deal and is seeking to block him from being discharged from bankruptcy in the US.
Anglo chairman Alan Dukes has said that if this court action in Boston -- where Mr Drumm is now based -- is successful, it could mean the bank could mount a legal action against him in Ireland.
Mr Conlan (47) was one of Ireland's big property developers and his empire also includes the private hospitals, Mount Carmel in Dublin, St Joseph's in Sligo and Aut Even in Kilkenny.
Earlier this year, the Commercial Court heard Mr Conlan had loans totalling €313m from AIB and that he now "has no money". He gave the bank a €127.5m personal guarantee against the loans.