Tuesday 16 January 2018

Business partner of Sean Fitzpatrick not aware of changes to joint bank account, court hears

Sean Fitzpatrick
Sean Fitzpatrick

Conor Gallagher

A friend and business partner of former Anglo Irish Chairman Sean FitzPatrick has told a trial that he was not aware of several transfers made from a bank account they held jointly.

Crohan O'Shea also told the trial that he was unaware of changes made to the account which removed Mr FitzPatrick's name but left his own on Anglo's computer record system.

Mr O'Shea was giving evidence at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on day 17 of the trial of three former Anglo officials accused of hiding bank accounts connected to Mr FitzPatrick from Revenue.

Jurors also heard from the deputy head of IT in the bank that he was asked to remove accounts from the bank's record system by one of the accused, Aoife Maguire. James Shaw told the trial that he archived the accounts instead of deleting them so they would be retrievable later.

Ms Maguire (60) of Rothe Abbey, South Circular Road, Kilmainham, Dublin, Former Chief Operations Officer Tiarnan O'Mahoney (54) of Glen Pines, Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow and former company secretary Bernard Daly (65) of Collins Avenue West, Whitehall, Dublin have pleaded not (NOT) guilty to seven counts .

It is alleged that they deleted or omitted accounts, connected to the former chairman from Anglo's Core Banking System (CBS) or from documentation provided to Revenue between 2003 and 2004.

Mr O'Shea told prosecuting counsel Dominic McGinn SC that he had known Mr FitzPatrick for many years as a friend and business partner. He said they set up an account together to develop two sites in Parkwest in Dublin. One of the sites was rented to Dixons and the other to Lynch Freight.

He identified several rent cheques from 1998 from the two companies which were paid to his company O'Shea Homes. A later cheque from 2000 for IR£31,200 was made out to O'Shea FitzPatrick Trust.

Mr O'Shea said that the account was set up as a trust to benefit his six children and Mr FitzPatrick's three children. “I'm not sure why it was a trust. I was told to do that,” he told counsel.

He said there was another account under the name of the trust which was used for share dealing. Mr O'Shea said he bought some shares when “there was a bit of surplus money.”

Counsel presented bank records from the joint account which showed that Ir£196,000 was transferred out of the account in September 1998 and into an account called “SRLADV”. A few days later the money was transferred back into the trust account.

Similar transactions were shown from September 1999 and 2000. Mr O'Shea said he had no knowledge of the transfers.

A previous witness, former Anglo fraud officer Patrick Peake, told the jury that the SRLADV account was an internal Anglo account run by human resources which was used to provide loans to bank staff.

Mr Peake explained that September was the financial year end for Anglo when it had to report its profits to shareholders as part of its annual return. The court heard part of the annual return involved detailing all loans given to executive directors of the bank.

Referring to September 1998 when the money was temporarily paid back from accounts connected to Mr FitzPatrick, Mr Peake said: “The customer's staff loan account was significantly reduced over the year end/financial results period.”

Today Mr O'Shea also said that he was unaware of several name changes to the joint account as shown by bank records.

Counsel presented records which showed that in April 2004 the name was changed from Sean FitzPatrick/Crohan O'Shea Trust to simply Crohan O'Shea Trust. The account address was changed to Mr O'Shea's home address in Killiney.

In May 2004 the name was changed back to Sean FitzPatrick/Crohan O'Shea Trust. In June 2004 it was again changed to Crohan O'Shea Trust. Mr O'Shea said he had no knowledge of any of these changes and gave no instructions for them.

After finishing his evidence Mr O'Shea asked to be allowed clarify that the account he held with Mr FitzPatrick was not a non-resident account and that he had paid tax on it every year. He agreed with Mr McGinn that, as was far as he was concerned, the account was completely above board.

Mr O'Shea claimed The Irish Times had wrongly reported on the first day of the trial that it was an off-shore account and that there were attempts to hide it from Revenue.

Former deputy IT manager with Anglo, James Shaw, told the court that a colleague, Shay McGill, had been asked to remove accounts which had already been closed from the bank's computer archive. He said Mr McGill came to him and said he was “uncomfortable” with the request.

Mr Shaw said he agreed with Mr McGill and that he decided to ask Ms Maguire for clarity. He said Ms Maguire confirmed to him that the accounts were to be deleted.

 

 

 

He said that he again discussed the matter with Mr McGill and they decided the accounts shouldn't be deleted as they had already being closed. He said they decided to archive them instead.

 

 

 

“It’s a very important distinction,” he told Mr McGinn “When the data is archived it is retained and is retrievable.”

 

 

 

He said he didn't tell Ms Maguire that they were archiving the accounts because he didn't think she would know the difference between archiving and deleting.

 

 

 

Mr Shaw said he was concerned about deleting the accounts because, as an IT professional “you don't like deleting anything really.”

 

 

 

He said in 2009 the banks internal audit department requested the retrieval of one of the archived accounts and that they were able to get it from the archive.

 

 

 

The trial continue before Judge Patrick McCartan and a jury of six men and six women.

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