Friday 23 March 2018

Former Anglo Irish bank director Willie McAteer has been jailed for two-and-a-half years for fraudulent trading

Former Anglo Irish Bank executive Willie McAteer
Former Anglo Irish Bank executive Willie McAteer
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

A former Anglo Irish Bank director has been jailed for two-and-a-half years for fraudulently obtaining an €8.2m loan.

The bank’s former finance director Willie McAteer (66), of Greenrath, Tipperary Town, Co Tipperary, had pleaded guilty to fraudulent trading at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

The sentence will be served concurrently with a three-and-a-half year prison term he is already serving for conspiring to mislead investors by using interbank loans to make Anglo appear €7.2bn more valuable than it was in 2008.

Judge Martin Nolan described the latest offence as “a serious crime” which could not be excused by the pressure bank executives were under at the time.

“Mr McAteer was a very senior person and shouldn’t have committed this crime, regardless of the pressure he was under,” said Judge Nolan.

Mr McAteer admitted fraudulently obtaining the loan so he could avoid having to sell 3.3 million shares he had in Anglo.

The former banker had financed the purchase of the Anglo shares with borrowings from Bank of Ireland.

But there was a clause in the agreement which meant Bank of Ireland could sell the shares without consulting Mr McAteer if they fell below a certain value.

The shares fell under the value threshold in September 2008.

The court previously heard an Anglo executive committee believed the sudden sale of so many shares would be catastrophic.

It decided to lend Mr McAteer €8.2m so he could clear his debts with Bank of Ireland.

But the court heard that not only had Mr McAteer committed a fraud in receiving the loan, it was never included on a register, as loans to directors of the bank should have been.

Sentencing Mr McAteer, Judge Nolan said “a plan was hatched” to deal with the situation regarding his shares.

It was to Mr McAteer’s “discredit” that he became involved in this plan, the judge said.

Judge Nolan said banks were under pressure at the time and fighting for survival.

“Survival is not a reason to commit a crime, but is obviously a factor in this case,” he said.

The judge said that Mr McAteer’s circumstances had changed dramatically throughout his life.

He had been a self made man who worked very hard to make it to the upper echelons of his profession and now had lost it all.

“It seems to me that when he is released from prison, he will be an impoverished man,” the judge said.

The court heard that the maximum sentence that could be imposed was one of seven years.

Judge Nolan said that although it was a serious crime, he believed a two-and-a-half year sentence, running concurrent to Mr McAteer’s other sentence, was the appropriate one.

He said he had to take into account Mr McAteer’s age, his guilty plea and his circumstances.

He also said it was “highly unlikely” Mr McAteer would reoffend.

Last week, another Anglo director, Pat Whelan, was fined €3,000 for failing to register Mr McAteer’s loan.

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