Sunday 21 January 2018

Solicitor advising Anglo did not know about Maple 10 lending

Robert Heron insists he was never told the bank was lending to unwind Sean Quinn’s stake

Sarah Stack

Sarah Stack

SOLICITOR Robert Heron did not know about lending to the Maple 10 when he advised the former Anglo Irish Bank in 2008, a court heard today.

Mr Heron, a former equity partner at commercial law firm Matheson Ormsby Prentice Solicitors, now known as Matheson, was giving evidence at the sentence hearing of two former directors convicted of providing illegal loans to ten individuals.

Former Anglo Director of Finance William McAteer and former head of Irish lending, Pat Whelan, face up to five years in jail after been convicted by a jury on April 17 last following a 47-day trial of providing the loans to the group known as the Maple 10.

Mr Heron told the court he was aware of and believed lending to members Sean Quinn's family may have been in the ordinary course of business.

However he insisted he was never told the bank was lending money to ten customers to unwind Mr Quinn’s secret stake in the bank.

"There was no reference to people other than Quinn children," said Mr Heron.

The sentencing gearing continue before Judge Martin Nolan tomorrow.

The jury found Mr McAteer and Mr Whelan guilty on ten charges each of breaching Section 60 of the Companies Act 1963 by lending €45m to 10 investors to buy shares in Anglo for a share support scheme. Each loan had 25pc recourse.

The jury acquitted them on six further charges each of lending €169m for the same purpose to members of Mr Quinn’s family. The loans were with 100pc recourse.

Their co-accused, former Anglo Chairman Sean FitzPatrick, walked free from court when he was acquitted on all charges.

The three men had denied all charges.

The Maple 10 deal was designed to unwind the 29.4 per cent control of Anglo which Mr Quinn had built up through investment tools known as Contracts for Difference (CFDs).

The court heard neither defendant had direct contact with Mr Heron in connection with the transaction.

He told the court he did not give positive legal advice on the Maple 10 loans and could not recall a conference call the weekend of the deal with Morgan Stanley.

During the 11 week trial Judge Nolan ruled that no mention of any legal advice obtained by Anglo in the run up to the Maple 10 deal could be considered by the jury.

A host of witnesses, chiefly the Maple 10, testified that they had no qualms about the July 2008 deal because Anglo had obtained positive legal advice.

But the jury were suddenly told on day 18 of the trial that they must disregard any evidence of legal advice as irrelevant.

The content of the legal advice and what details Mr Heron was told of the deal is taking centre stage at the sentence hearing.

He took the stand following legal argument between barristers.

Mr McAteer (63) of Rathgar, Dublin 6  and Mr Whelan (52) of Malahide, Co Dublin are on continuing bail.

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