Tuesday 12 December 2017

Former Anglo executives Whelan and McAteer guilty of illegal loans to 'Maple 10'

Pair found not guilty of providing unlawful financial assistance to six members of Sean Quinn’s family

FORMER Anglo Irish Bank executives Pat Whelan and William McAteer have been found guilty of giving illegal loans to the so-called Maple 10 to buy shares in the bank.

The co-accused were also found not guilty of providing unlawful financial assistance six members of Sean Quinn’s family to unwind the businessman’s secret stake in the bank.

The jury returned the verdicts at the Circuit Criminal Court in Dublin after deliberating for almost 17 hours over five days.

Yesterday, their co-accused Sean FitzPatrick walked free from the court after been found not guilty of providing unlawful financial assistance to the Maple 10 as part of the plan to unwind Sean Quinn’s secret stake in the bank.

Trial judge Martin Nolan previously directed that Mr FitzPatrick be found not guilty in connection with the loans to the Quinn family.

He also cleared Mr Whelan of seven counts relating to facility letters to the Maple 10.

The loan-for-shares deal involved unwinding Mr Quinn’s secret 29pc stake in the bank, build up through contracts for difference (cfds).

Whelan and McAteer showed no emotion as the verdicts were returned one by one.

Former Anglo Irish Bank executives Pat Whelan, left and William McAteer

Pat Whelan, left and William McAteer

They face up to five years in jail on each count and / or a €3,000 fine.

The pair stood in the dock side by side as they were remanded on bail by the judge. The sentence hearing will take place on April 28th.

Excusing the jury from jury service for 10 years Judge Nolan thanked them for their time and said they were a credit to the jury system.

The three co-accused had been charged with breaching Section 60 of the Companies Act by lending €450m to 10 high net worth clients for the purchase of shares in the bank.

Mr Whelan – who turned 52 today - and Mr McAteer were also accused of giving €169m in illegal loans to Mr Quinn’s wife Patricia and their five children.

The loan for shares deal was devised after the former billionaire told executives in September 2007 that he had built up a 24pc secret stake in Anglo through contracts for difference (cfds), which he later increased to almost 29pc.

He held his stake through a Portuguese registered company, Bazzely Ltd, which he set up as an investment engine for his family for “tax efficient” purposes.

As Anglo’s share price fell, the cost of Mr Quinn’s spectacular punt rose, and he lost €2.4 billion funding margin calls with cfd providers – a hefty tag met by Anglo over the months.

Mr Whelan and Anglo’s then chief executive David Drumm chased clients to the south of France and Portugal to unwind his investment after trips to find investments in London, the US, the Middle East failed.

At the start of the trial lawyers for Mr FitzPatrick (65) of Whitshed Road, Greystones, Co Wicklow and for Mr Whelan – who turned 52 today - of Coast Road, Malahide, Co Dublin, admitted the men were aware of lending to buy shares.

Sean FitzPatrick

Sean FitzPAtrick on the steps of Dublin Circuit Criminal Court 

They also admitted this was executing a plan by the bank to enable the orderly unwind of Mr Quinn's cfd position.

Mr Whelan also admitted he helped to implement the plan, but did so in belief that it was lending in the ordinary course of business.

Defence barristers argued the Irish and UK Financial Regulators had agreed to the plan and Anglo’s compliance department got positive legal advice from Matheson Ormsby Prentice (MOPs).

The plan was executed by external international financial services company, Morgan Stanley, which had insisted on holding due diligence conference calls with Con Horan, number two at the regulator’s office, and lawyer Robert Heron of MOPs.

Mr McAteer (63) of Auburn Villas, Rathgar, south Dublin had denied he was instrumental in the transactions.

The loan for shares deal was offered to ten of Anglo’s top customers, who became known as the Maple 10, who took about 10pc of the Quinn stake. The high net worth group included developers Patrick McKillen, Seamus Ross, John McCabe, Patrick Kearney, Gerard Maguire, Brian O’Farrell, Gerry Gannon, Sean Reilly, Joe O’Reilly and businessman Gerard Conlan.

The men agreed to €60m loans – with 25pc recourse – to buy more than 10m shares in Anglo. Just €45m drawn down in each man’s name as the share price dropped. Some never sold the stock and lwere left with debts of €12.5m.

Former Anglo executive William McAteer

Former Anglo executive William McAteer arriving at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court

The six members of the Quinn family included Mr Quinn’s wife Patricia and their children Sean junior, Colette, Aoife, Ciara and Brenda – who took loans of €169m at 100pc recourse to take the remaining 15pc stake.

The loans were arranged between July 14 and 30 2008, six months before Anglo was nationalised.

It was later rebranded the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC) and liquidated last year after costing the taxpayer €31 billion.

The case itself made with a jury of 15 sworn in to hear the evidence as the case was due to last until the end of May. Just 12 were picked to return the verdicts.

The lengthy Garda probe was also one of the most complex in Irish legal history with “hundreds of thousands” of documents and technical and financial data seized and 800 witness statements.

The “bedrock” of the investigation centered on an internal report Mr Whelan penned entitled "Review of Quinn and Related Transactions January 2009” which he handed over to authorities.

By the end just over 600 documents formed the books of evidence and 54 witnesses – including the Quinns, former financial regulator Mr Neary and former Central Bank of Ireland governor John Hurley – gave evidence.

The trial lasted 47 days.

Pat Whelan deserves to be punished but solving the problem is a long way off

Former Anglo executive Pat Whelan arriving at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court

Directing the jury Judge Martin Nolan said there was no doubt there was terror in Anglo that the Quinn stake would be released to the markets, affecting the share price and confidence in the lender.

He told them to leave any prejudices at the jury door and to try the three co-accused on the charges at the centre of the case and not on the collapse of the banking system.

He also warned the seven men and seven women it was irrelevant if the Financial Regulator, Morgan Stanley and legal advice supported the scheme, and if other people involved in its transaction were not being prosecuted.

Two former Anglo officers, Matt Moran and Fiachre O’Neill, had been granted immunity from prosecution for giving evidence at the trial.

Mr Drumm is living in the US and is not on trial.

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