Monday 20 November 2017

Illness to witness delays FitzPatrick trial again - judge

Sean FitzPatrick
Sean FitzPatrick
Dearbhail McDonald

Dearbhail McDonald

The judge in the trial of former Anglo Irish Bank chairman Sean FitzPatrick has told the jury that an illness of a witness is causing difficulty in a trial which has been repeatedly delayed for the last three weeks.

Last month, Mr FitzPatrick (66) of Whitshed Road, Greystones, Co Wicklow, pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to 27 offences under the Companies Act, 1990. These include 21 charges of making a misleading, false or deceptive statement to auditors and six charges of furnishing false information.

The charges are in connection with the disclosure of loans allegedly given to him or people connected to him by Irish Nationwide Building Society from 2002 to 2007 while he was an officer of Anglo Irish Bank.

A jury of six men and six women was sworn in at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on April 14 last and jurors were told at the outset that the trial could last until May 29.

The jury was told at the outset of the trial that immediate legal issues had to be dealt with before the evidence could be opened to the jury.

Legal argument began on April 16 and the jury were repeatedly notified by telephone that the opening of the trial before them would be delayed.

Yesterday, trial judge Mary Ellen Ring told the jury that the illness of a witness had caused "serious timetable problems" in addition to unforeseen matters that have arisen during the course of the trial.

Judge Ring asked the jury to return to court next Wednesday. She said that in any trial there may be difficulties and in this one there is an illness that has caused "serious timetable problems". Earlier this week, Judge Ring told the jury that matters have taken longer than anyone could have predicted, for a "variety of reasons". She apologised to the jurors and told them she could not say when the trial would actually start before them in evidence.

During the empanelment of the jury last month, around 31 people were excused from jury service after giving reasons to the judge in private.

Mr FitzPatrick is accused of failing to disclose to Anglo's auditors, Ernst and Young, the true amount of loans to him or people connected with him.

The prosecution claims he authorised arrangements to ensure that the balance of those loans would be reduced or appear to be reduced at the end of the bank's financial year and failed to tell the auditors about those arrangements.

He is also accused of failing to tell the auditors about arrangements between Anglo Irish Bank and INBS in connection with loans to him by INBS.

Finally, he is accused of producing financial statements about the value of loans to Anglo's directors which failed to include the true amounts outstanding by him to the bank.

He denies the charges.

Irish Independent

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