Thursday 22 February 2018

Anglo trial: Accused tells gardaí he is innocent of any wrong-doing, trial hears

Left to right, William McAteer, Denis Casey, John Bowe, and Peter Fitzpatrick
Left to right, William McAteer, Denis Casey, John Bowe, and Peter Fitzpatrick

Declan Brennan

The State has concluded its evidence in the trial of four former bank executives accused of conspiring to mislead investors by setting up a seven billion euro circular transaction scheme to bolster the balance sheet of Anglo Irish Bank.

Peter Fitzpatrick (63) of Convent Lane, Portmarnock, Dublin, Denis Casey (56), of Raheny, Dublin, John Bowe (52) of 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 through financial transactions between March 1 and September 30, 2008.

On day 67 of the trial Paul O'Higgins SC, for the Director of Public Prosecutions, told Judge Martin Nolan that the State has concluded it's evidence.

The trial has now gone into legal argument and Judge Nolan told the jury to return on next Tuesday.

The State's case is that the four accused were involved in back to back deals between Anglo and Irish Life & Permanent (ILP) to coincide with Anglo's end of year balance sheet date on September 30, 2008 in order to inflate Anglo's deposits figure for their annual accounts.

Before the conclusion of the prosecution case Detective Sergeant Catharina Gunne from the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation continued giving evidence of voluntary interview statements provided in November 2013 by Mr Fitzpatrick, who was ILPs head of finance in 2008.

The jury heard that Det Sgt Gunne put it to the accused that the ILP's assistance to Anglo resulted in the misrepresentation of Anglo’s customer deposits at year end and that this was a crime. Mr Fitzpatrick told gardaí that he did not commit any crime.

“I strongly refute any allegation that I participated in the breaking of the law. There arose a fundamental disagreement between ILP and Anglo as a result of this transaction which persists to this day,” he said.

He told gardaí it came as a shock to him when he learnt that Anglo was denying “the most fundamental principle which had been agreed”, which he said was that the deposits from ILP were collateralised against assets or cash from Anglo.

He said that prior to January 2009 ILP never received any request for clarification from Anglo or their auditors, the Financial Regulator Patrick Neary or the Central Bank Governor John Hurley.

“I feel that the matter was dealt with as a matter of political expediency with no reference to the substance of the transaction.

“I believe that the actions of the (Financial) Regulator post 30 September 2008 effectively shows that he tacitly if not explicitly approved such actions. Without this understanding the transaction would have in all certainty not have taken place,” he told gardaí.

Det Sgt Gunne put it to the accused that, as ILP's “finance director”, he “conspired to assist Anglo in misrepresenting the market at its half year and year end”.

“I did not do that, there was no conspiracy on my part, and I am innocent of any wrong doing,” Mr Fitzpatrick replied.

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