Monday 15 October 2018

Bankruptcy hasn't curbed luxury lifestyle of 'outsider' Sean FitzPatrick

Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

His arrest at Dublin airport as he returned from a break in the US is just the latest sign that Sean FitzPatrick still enjoys a lifestyle way beyond the reach of most of those left to pick up the Anglo tab.

The arrest comes just a month after he was photographed at the Euro 2012 finals in Poland, where he stayed at a €550-a night Poznan hotel.

In the past he has also been a frequent visitor to Spain on golfing trips.

The former banker became one of the most high-profile people ever to be declared bankrupt in Ireland, in 2010.

Most people thought bankruptcy would mean the end to his luxury lifestyle, but 'Seanie', as he is universally known, is still living in a fashion most of us can only dream of.

Mr FitzPatrick continues to live in a large family home in the upmarket Co Wicklow suburb of Greystones. The home, always jointly owned with his wife, is the most obvious sign that as a family, the FitzPatricks have been able to maintain much of their lifestyle.

When Mr FitzPatrick was declared bankrupt, the courts could not touch the half-share of the couple's wealth owned by his wife Catriona. Even with his share of their wealth sold off, Mrs FitzPatrick's added up to a hefty €3.6m. That includes properties interests and an entitlement to half of Mr FitzPatrick's €3.4m pension pot from his former employer Anglo.

Mr FitzPatrick is the most prominent person to be charged by gardai in relation to possible financial wrongdoing in the run up to the economic crash.

It's a new low for the one-time deal-maker who enjoyed vast wealth, prestige and power for decades.

He liked to see himself and the Anglo Irish Bank that he created as 'outsiders' -- the unruly newcomer kicking sand in the eyes of 'establishment' players AIB and Bank of Ireland.

In truth, 'Seanie' was a consummate insider. The UCD graduate was wealthy, well-connected and for a long time massively successful.

People who worked with him say he is genuinely charismatic, a big personality who brought an infectious enthusiasm and drive to his banking deals, and left the analytical stuff to others.

For a long time, it paid off. For two decades, Sean FitzPatrick was among the most powerful figures in Irish business.

He was on first name terms with the biggest of the boom-time builders, as well as with the most popular politicians of the day. Far from an outsider, he sat on corporate boards and, at one time, he was president of the Irish Bankers Federation.

Expertise

Over the years, he has been a director of dozens of private companies, including major firms like Greencore that had little or nothing to do with banking but were more than happy to tap his expertise and contacts book.

Fianna Fail ministers asked him to sit on the boards overseeing the State's interests in Aer Lingus and the Dublin Dockland Development Agency.

In 2008, even as the wheels were starting to come off the economic miracle, Mr FitzPatrick played a round of golf with then Taoiseach Brian Cowen.

At the height of his powers, Mr FitzPatrick was the main driver behind a bank worth a staggering €12bn.

The collapse of Anglo eventually left taxpayers to pick up a €30bn tab -- but it had gone from also-ran to being Ireland's third largest financial institution under FitzPatrick's control.

There were 2,000 employees and its client list was a who's-who of the boom. In his years as chief executive Mr FitzPatrick was Ireland's highest paid executive, earning €2.7m a year, a figure that was topped up with lucrative share allocations and company loans.

Irish Independent

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