Monday 11 December 2017

FitzPatrick is to go on trial for under-declaring loans by €139m

Former Anglo Irish Bank chief executive and chairman Sean FitzPatrick leaves court after being sent for trial.
Former Anglo Irish Bank chief executive and chairman Sean FitzPatrick leaves court after being sent for trial.

Tom Tuite

FORMER Anglo Irish chairman and chief executive Sean FitzPatrick has been returned for trial accused of hiding the true value of multi-million euro loans from auditors of the toxic bank.

Boxes of evidence were served by a fraud squad detective in a Dublin court yesterday morning as Mr FitzPatrick was sent forward for trial on 12 counts of breaking company law.

Now bankrupt, he has not yet indicated how he will plead. He will remain on bail, but was told he cannot leave the country unless he gives 48 hours' notice to gardai.

Mr FitzPatrick, who will be tried on indictment before a jury at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, will face his next hearing on March 22, Judge Patricia McNamara ordered. It is likely that it will be several months before the trial gets under way.

The former banker was charged last December 21 at Dublin District Court with 12 counts in connection with financial irregularities at Anglo over a six-year period.

Misleading

Mr FitzPatrick, of Whitshed Road, Greystones, Co Wicklow, stepped down in December 2008 and left with a €3m pension pot. Anglo was subsequently nationalised and rebranded the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC), with its collapse costing Irish taxpayers around €30bn.

In this set of proceedings, Mr FitzPatrick is accused of committing 12 offences contrary to the Companies Act.

He faces six counts stating that as an officer of the bank he knowingly or recklessly made false, misleading or deceptive statements to Anglo's auditors, Ernst & Young, between 2002 and 2007 by under-declaring the balance on loans by at least €139m.

He also faces six more charges for failing to disclose an arrangement between Anglo and Irish Nationwide under which the building society loaned him money between 2002 and 2007.

If convicted, he could face fines of up to €12,697 and/or a maximum sentence of up to five years in prison for each offence.

The 64-year-old had replied "no comment" to each count when he was charged in December, when he was remanded on bail to appear again yesterday at Dublin District Court where the case was listed for the State to serve him with a book of evidence – it turned out to be boxes of evidence.

State solicitor Jane Farrell told Judge McNamara that the DPP has consented to Mr FitzPatrick being returned for trial to the present term of the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

Beside her were several white cardboard file boxes containing the evidence which the State plans to use in its attempt to prosecute.

Det Insp Raymond Kavanagh, who is with the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation on secondment to the Director of Corporate Enforcement, told the judge that there were 12 volumes in the book of evidence, one of which was served on Mr FitzPatrick in court.

The officer said the remaining volumes would be handed over to defence solicitor Michael Staines.

The judge told Mr FitzPatrick that if he intended to rely on an alibi as part of his defence, he must notify the prosecution and provide the relevant details within 14 days. She then made the order sending the former Anglo boss forward for trial.

Mr FitzPatrick nodded in reply when asked if he understood the alibi caution.

Understood

He left the courtroom while his bail bond was prepared and returned a few minutes later. He said "Yes" to acknowledge his signature on his bond and nodded again when asked if he understood the terms. He then left the court, with Mr Staines accompanying him to a taxi.

Det Insp Kavanagh yesterday asked that the bail terms, which had been set earlier, be continued, and they were read to Mr FitzPatrick during the hearing.

He was remanded in his own bond of €1,000 and must continue to reside at his current address and give 48 hours' notice to gardai of any change of residence.

Mr FitzPatrick must sign on once a week at Irishtown garda station, but this condition is suspended in the event that he leaves the jurisdiction subject to him notifying the gardai of any plans to travel 48 hours in advance.

Irish Independent

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