Friday 19 July 2019

Judge tells Anglo jury accused must get fair hearing

Peter Fitzpatrick: Photo: Collins
Peter Fitzpatrick: Photo: Collins

Declan Brennan

The judge in the trial of four former bank executives has said that the bank is "probably the most reviled institution in the State" - but that the accused men are entitled to a fair hearing.

Judge Martin Nolan told the jury that they must "do justice" for the four former bankers accused of conspiracy to defraud in 2008 and that the trial was no place for prejudice.

The four former executives from Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Life & Permanent (ILP) are alleged to have conspired to mislead investors about the true health of Anglo.

Peter Fitzpatrick (63), of Convent Lane, Portmarnock, Dublin; Denis Casey (56), from Raheny, Dublin; John Bowe (52) from Glasnevin, Dublin; and Willie McAteer (65) of Greenrath, Tipperary town, Co Tipperary have all pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to conspiring together and with others to mislead investors by setting up a €7.2bn circular transaction scheme between March 1 and September 30, 2008 to bolster Anglo's balance sheet.

Closing speeches have now ended in what is understood to be the longest-running trial in Irish legal history. At the end of day 74 of the trial yesterday, the judge began his charge to the jury by saying the four accused were entitled to a fair trial.

He told the jury: "Anglo is probably the most reviled institution in the State. That should play no part in your deliberations, they are entitled to a fair trial. You must do justice to these men".

Brendan Grehan SC, defending Mr Fitzpatrick, told the jurors that their eyes must have watered at the thought of getting their hands on someone who did something really evil regarding the banking crisis which caused misery to so many. But, he said, the indictment didn't live up its billing.

He said the prosecution had failed to produce any evidence that showed an intention on Mr Fitzpatrick's part to defraud.

The State's case against his client boiled down to a single issue, the question of intent on the part of the former finance director for ILP, and amounted to one of "come on, they must have known", he said.

"If there was evidence, don't you think they'd be shouting it form the roof tops? If there was a smoking gun, the prosecution would be holding it up like 'exhibit A'," counsel said.

Mr Grehan said none of the defendants had gained personally from the deal and Mr Fitzpatrick's motivation in authorising the deal was the "green jersey" agenda, the Financial Regulator's request for Irish banks to support one another.

The judge will continue with his charge this morning.

Irish Independent

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