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Wednesday 3 September 2014

Fallout from plan to unwind Quinn's stake in bank 'is like 1916 in reverse'

Sarah Stack

Published 12/04/2014 | 02:30

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THE fallout from the execution of Anglo Irish Bank's plan to unwind Sean Quinn's secret stake in the bank is like 1916 in reverse, it was claimed in court.

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Defence barrister Michael O'Higgins SC admitted that it wasn't a great time to be a banker on trial, compared to the Celtic Tiger years, when bank bosses went from being the bogeyman writing nasty letters to everyone being friends.

Mr O'Higgins, for Sean FitzPatrick, told the jury that everybody had been happy with the Maple 10 transaction at the time in 2008 – Anglo, the Financial Regulator and even a high-level government steering group.

"Everybody was gloriously happy until the climate changed," he said.

"It's sort of like 1916 in reverse. When the lads were taken out of the GPO they were treated risibly by the people of Dublin and virtually spat on. When they were executed they became heroes.

"History is being rewritten on this," Mr O'Higgins said.

VICIOUSNESS

"Everybody was relieved and happy and didn't have a problem."

Mr O'Higgins said in light of subsequent events – which he described as viciousness and unfocused anger – the deal was looked at in a different light.

"The ground started to shift," he added.

Making his closing submission to the jury, Mr O'Higgins maintained that while Mr FitzPatrick was aware of some lending to the Maple 10, he had no involvement in or knowledge of the terms, and the extent of the lending, and believed there was 100pc recourse.

The barrister argued his client should be acquitted based on evidence given by the prosecution's own banking expert.

He said ex-banker Tom Reid had agreed that there was nothing conceptually wrong with lending money to buy shares, once it was done commercially with full recourse.

"Their expert testimony supports an acquittal," Mr O'Higgins added.

Irish Independent

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