Thursday 26 April 2018

Anglo employee was 'basically a form of gopher', trial told

Anglo employee was 'basically a form of gopher', trial told
Anglo employee was 'basically a form of gopher', trial told

Conor Gallagher

An Anglo Irish Bank employee accused of concealing accounts connected to chairman Sean FitzPatrick during a Revenue investigation was “basically a form of gopher”, her defence counsel has said.

Aoife Maguire, who was an assistant manager with Anglo, is accused of telling IT personnel to delete several accounts from the bank's computer system and of ensuring an account in the name of Mr FitzPatrick's brother-in-law was not on a list of accounts being handed over to Revenue as part of their investigation in alleged evasion of deposit interest retention tax (DIRT).

Counsel for Ms Maguire, Patrick Gageby SC, said in his closing speech that it is “risible and laughable” of the prosecution to suggest Ms Maguire was the driving force behind the alleged deletions and that the jury should acquit her on that ground alone.

Ms Maguire (62) of Rothe Abbey, South Circular Road, Kilmainham, Dublin, former Chief Operations Officer Tiarnan O'Mahoney (56) of Glen Pines, Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow and former company secretary Bernard Daly (67) of Collins Avenue West, Whitehall, Dublin have pleaded not guilty to seven counts at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court .

It is alleged that they hid or omitted accounts, connected to Mr FitzPatrick from Anglo's Core Banking System (CBS) or from documentation provided to Revenue, who were conducting an investigation into bogus non-resident accounts which may have been liable for DIRT.

Mr Gageby said she was “basically a form of gopher” who was at the lowest rung of the ladder in the bank. He said she acted as a messenger, not an instructor, in passing on account numbers to IT staff which were to be deleted.

Counsel said the IT staff were all higher up than Ms Maguire and only acted on her message because they thought, “rightly”, that it had come from higher-up.

“She wasn’t instructing. That simply isn’t the way the world works,” Mr Gageby said.

Counsel said that “nobody upstairs left any fingerprints” and suggested that Mr FitzPatrick was the captain of the ship. He compared Anglo to the Titanic or the Costa Concordia and asked whether the captains or their subordinates were responsible for the sinking.

“I really don’t suspect Mr FitzPatrick is going to burst through the doors of the court and say 'really sorry, it was all done on my watch',” Mr Gageby added.

He also told the jury that an offender under the relevant section of the Companies Act must be an officer of the company but that Ms Maguire “wasn't within an ass's roar of being a officer”, unlike her co-accused.

He said the only way the prosecution were able to charge her was by alleging that she conspired with officers of the company to commit the offences. The charge of conspiracy, he said, has been ruled by judges to be very elastic and to have a very wide ambit.

He said it has previously been ruled that the charge of conspiracy should not be brought if an offence had been completed. Mr Gageby said this offence was completed when Mr FitzPatrick's brother-in-law was removed from the list and therefore Ms Maguire shouldn't have been charged.

Counsel for Mr Daly, Sean Guerin SC, told the jury in his closing speech that the prosecuting counsel was engaged in “a danse macabre” with the evidence whilst in reality it was another employee, Michael Chastain, who removed names from the list to be given to Revenue. Counsel referred to Mr Chastain as “Magic Mike Excel, the spreadsheet stripper.”

Mr Guerin said that the prosecution case against Mr Daly hung on a single conversation he allegedly had with Mr Gillespie in which he asked would he be willing to delete an account if requested to do so by Mr FitzPatrick.

Counsel asked the jury to consider if Mr Gillespie was a credible witness given his involvement in misleading Revenue in previous years.

He said Mr Gillespie has a very clear interest in shifting the focus from him because he had misled Revenue about computer records in 1999, costing it millions. Counsel said he also misled it in 2002 and submitted false records in 2003.

“Is that a reliable witness? Is that a witness who would be enough to convict someone you care about?” Mr Guerin asked.

The eight week trial is nearing its end. The jury will begin its deliberations tomorrow after being addressed on points of law by Judge Patrick McCartan.

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