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'Plausible deniability' in how Regulator dealt with Anglo plan, court hears

THERE was plausible deniability in how the Financial Regulator dealt with an Anglo Irish Bank plan to lend money to Sean Quinn’s family to buy some of his secret stake of shares, it was claimed in court.

Matt Moran, Anglo’s former chief financial officer, told the trial of three executives the Financial Regulator did not approve the deal in March 2008, but did not object to it and had requested to be removed from any agreement drawn up between the parties.

Mr Moran, who has been granted immunity from prosecution, was giving evidence for a fourth day.

Under cross examination Michel O’Higgins, senior counsel for Sean FitzPatrick, asked: “Is there a touch of ‘Yes Minister’ going on here?”

“I think it’s difficult for me to comment on such a remark,” he replied.

The barrister asked about plausible deniability – which he explained “as being involved in something, controlling it, but not appearing above the waterline line” so if any questions were later asked it could be said in a plausible way you were not involved.

“That’s a good description,” Mr Moran said.

“Is that a flavour of what was happening here?” asked Mr O’Higgins.

“That appeared to be the case,” Mr Moran replied.

That initial deal fell though and the bank, in July 2008, lent six members of the Quinn family and ten customers - who became known as a Maple 10 - cash to buy Quinn's near 30pc stake built up through contracts for difference.

Sean FitzPatrick (65), from Greystones, Co Wicklow; Patrick Whelan (51), of Malahide, Co Dublin; and William McAteer (63), of Rathgar in Dublin, have pleaded not guilty to 16 charges of unlawfully providing financial assistance to individuals for the purpose of buying shares in Anglo Irish Bank in 2008

Mr Whelan has also denied seven charges of being privy to the fraudulent alteration of a loan facility letter.

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The trial will continue next week.

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