Monday 22 January 2018

Cross-examination of former Anglo chairman Sean FitzPatrick adjourned

Aodhan O'Faolain

AN application to quiz former Anglo Irish Bank chairman Sean FitzPatrick about the ownership of an office block in London has been adjourned for a further four weeks at the High Court.

Mr FitzPatrick, a declared bankrupt, is to be cross-examined by a court-appointed official, who distributes a bankrupt's assets to creditors, over the ownership of the Woolgate Exchange in London.

Today, solicitor Michael Staines, who is representing Mr FitzPatrick in separate criminal proceedings against him, said that in his view the examination of his client in the bankruptcy court could prejudice the criminal case.

Mr Staines said he had written to the DPP about the proposed cross-examination of his client by the court bankruptcy official, Chris Lehane. However the DPP not made up her mind on the matter, Mr Staines said.

The matter was previously adjourned by the High Court to allow Mr Fitzpatrick's lawyers time to file a sworn statement outlining why it was believed that a cross examination would prejudice the criminal proceedings.

Bernard Dunleavy Bl, who is part of the legal team representing Mr FitzPatrick in the bankruptcy action, said that this had not yet been done.

Mr Staines undertook to provide the statement to the court.

Previously, lawyers acting for Mr Lehane told the court there was no connection between the issue he is to be cross-examined on and the on-going criminal action against him.

Today, when the matter came before Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne in the bankruptcy court, she remarked it was "unusual and bizarre" that a person should be represented by two legal teams in the one application.

After she expressed concern about this, the judge was given assurances that the same instructions were being given for both sets of lawyers.

The judge said she had previously asked that it be explained to the court exactly how the the proposed cross-examination would prejudice the criminal matters.

In light of what she had heard, she said she was adjourning the matter for another four weeks.

In July 2010, the High Court officially declared Mr FitzPatrick bankrupt after being informed he had failed to get sufficient support from his creditors for a private settlement scheme to pay off his debts.

Mr FitzPatrick, from Greystones, Co Wicklow, is estimated to have debts of €150m compared to assets of €47m.

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