Tuesday 21 November 2017

Former bank executives lose appeals against fraud convictions

John Bowe Photo: Collins Courts
John Bowe Photo: Collins Courts

Tim Healy

The Court of Appeal has upheld the convictions of two former bank executives, jailed last year for a €7.2bn conspiracy to defraud the public about the true health of Anglo Irish Bank in 2008.

The former head of capital markets with Anglo Irish Bank John Bowe (53), from Glasnevin in Dublin, and the former chief executive of Irish Life and Permanent, Denis Casey (57), from Raheny in Dublin, had pleaded not guilty to a single count of conspiring to mislead investors by using interbank loans to make Anglo appear €7.2bn more valuable between March 1 and September 30, 2008.

Denis Casey Photo: Collins Courts
Denis Casey Photo: Collins Courts

A jury at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court found them guilty following one of the longest criminal trials in the history of the State. Judge Martin Nolan sentenced Bowe to two years and Casey to two years and nine months imprisonment on July 29, 2016.

The men had brought appeals against their convictions which were heard over a week in March. Publication of the appeal hearing was restricted for legal reasons but yesterday, the three-judge Court of Appeal dismissed the men's appeals. In a 138-page judgment, President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice Seán Ryan said the court had taken into account the "extensive" grounds of appeal advanced on the men's behalf and the arguments concerning their convictions".

Mr Justice Ryan said the "lengthy and complex trial" turned on issues for the jury that were properly identified by the trial judge and the trial judge had exercised his function "carefully and correctly".

The Court of Appeal found no fault with the trial judge's rulings and directions and the jury had come to conclusions that were open to them to find, the judge said.

Despite "herculean" efforts by the men's barristers and the "myriad of issues" raised on their behalf, the three-judge court was satisfied that the men's trial was satisfactory and their convictions safe.

Mr Justice Ryan, who sat with Mr Justice George Birmingham and Mr Justice John Edwards, said the appeal must accordingly be dismissed.

Giving background, Mr Justice Ryan said the case had its origins in the "global banking catastrophe" of 2007/2008 and its impact on the Irish financial sector. More specifically it related to the existential crisis that befell Anglo Irish Bank Corporation PLC that ultimately resulted in its demise.

Between September 25 and 30, 2008, and prior to Anglo's financial year-end, a series of back-to-back transactions took place between Anglo and Irish Life Assurance Limited (ILA) in the total amount of €7.2bn. They had the effect of significantly increasing Anglo's accounts in regards to deposits as at September 30, 2008.

The prosecution submitted that these transactions were circular in nature and had no commercial substance, that the purpose was to deceive the market by giving the false impression that Anglo had received customer deposits to that amount and that therefore the state of Anglo was better than it actually was.

Irish Independent

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