Saturday 24 February 2018

Sean Fitzpatrick ‘should be acquitted of all charges’

Former Anglo Chairman Sean FitzPatrick (65)
Former Anglo Chairman Sean FitzPatrick (65)
Sarah Stack

Sarah Stack

SEAN FitzPatrick should be acquitted of all charges relating to a loan for shares deal to unwind Sean Quinn’s secret stake in Anglo Irish Bank, a court heard.

Defence barrister Michael O’Higgins SC, claimed evidence of the prosecution’s own banking expert clears Anglo’s former chairman of breaching company law.

He said ex-banker Tom Reid had agreed there was nothing conceptually wrong with lending money to buy shares, once done commercially with full recourse.

Mr O'Higgins said his client had no involvement or knowledge of the terms of the loan.

"Their expert testimony supports an acquittal," Mr O'Higgins said.

Mr Mr FitzPatrick (65), from Greystones, Co Wicklow; William McAteer (63), of Rathgar in Dublin; and Pat Whelan (51), of Malahide, Co Dublin; all deny 10 counts of providing unlawful financial assistance to net worth Anglo clients – known as the so-called Maple 10 - in July 2008 to buy shares in Anglo.

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

Mr Whelan, Anglo’s former head of lending in Ireland and ex-chief risk officer Mr McAteer also deny six counts each of providing unlawful financial assistance to six members of the Quinn family as part of the same deal.

Mr O'Higgins dismissed prosecution claims the deal was carried as a share support scheme, adding that it was a red herring not mentioned in the book of evidence which was thrown out in closing arguments.

"You are being asked to convict people of a very serious offence which carries a very significant stigma," he added in his closing submission.

Judge Martin Nolan previously directed that Mr FitzPatrick be cleared of the six charges relating to the Quinn loans, and directed that Mr Whelan be acquitted of seven charges in connection with a facility letter.

The judge is expected to charge the jury of seven men and seven women this afternoon.

The trial, which is in its tenth week at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, continues.

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