| 4.7°C Dublin

The 'face of Anglo' unscathed by court battle

Close

Former Anglo chairman Sean FitzPatrick greets the media and well-wishers yesterday after he was acquitted in a 43-day trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court. Photo :Mark Condren

Former Anglo chairman Sean FitzPatrick greets the media and well-wishers yesterday after he was acquitted in a 43-day trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court. Photo :Mark Condren

Sean FitzPatrick. Photo: Collins

Sean FitzPatrick. Photo: Collins

Former Anglo Chairman Sean Fitzpatrick at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court

Former Anglo Chairman Sean Fitzpatrick at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court

Former Anglo Chairman Sean Fitzpatrick at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court

Former Anglo Chairman Sean Fitzpatrick at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court

The State had challenged the costs application on the grounds that the prosecution was in “the public interest”

The State had challenged the costs application on the grounds that the prosecution was in “the public interest”

Former Anglo Chairman Sean Fitzpatrick at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court

Former Anglo Chairman Sean Fitzpatrick at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court

Former Anglo Chairman Sean Fitzpatrick at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court

Former Anglo Chairman Sean Fitzpatrick at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court

Former Anglo Chairman Sean Fitzpatrick at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court

Former Anglo Chairman Sean Fitzpatrick at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court

Sean FitzPatrick

Sean FitzPatrick

/

Former Anglo chairman Sean FitzPatrick greets the media and well-wishers yesterday after he was acquitted in a 43-day trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court. Photo :Mark Condren

There was a profound, dignified silence in courtroom 19 as the jury acquitted "the face of Anglo", Sean FitzPatrick.

The jury verdict was a stunning outcome for Mr FitzPatrick and his legal team, led by Senior Counsel Michael O'Higgins.

Mr O'Higgins, an award-winning fiction writer and former journalist, was one of the star protagonists of the Anglo trial.

Steeped in the art of storytelling from his early days at the law library – where he juggled his devil's duties with freelance shifts at the Irish Independent, RTE and 'Magill' – the lawyer delivered a closing speech to the jury that colleagues privately remarked was "a near perfect 10".

Mr O'Higgins, best-known for his criminal defence work, engaged in frequent, heated exchanges with various witnesses as well as trial Judge Martin Nolan.

And he managed to dovetail the uncharted waters of the hitherto unprosecuted section 60 of the Companies Act 1963 with the familiar, beleaguered history of Irish rebellion, telling the jury the trial of three former Anglo executives was "like 1916 in reverse".

One of the challenges Mr O'Higgins faced was rebutting the presumption, in law, that Mr FitzPatrick permitted what the prosecution claimed was an illegal share scheme.

The primary evidence against Mr FitzPatrick were his own words, captured in a series of interviews he gave to gardai.

Though best-known as the long-standing CEO of Anglo, Mr FitzPatrick was – at the time of the July 2008 lending scheme – non-executive chairman of the bank.

The day-to-day running of Anglo fell to David Drumm, Mr FitzPatrick's successor who is not before the courts.

Daily Digest Newsletter

Get ahead of the day with the morning headlines at 7.30am and Fionnán Sheahan's exclusive take on the day's news every afternoon, with our free daily newsletter.

This field is required

The jury heard that on July 9, 2008, days before the so-called Maple 10 deal went through, Mr Drumm rang Mr FitzPatrick who was holidaying in the south of France.

The jury heard that Mr Drumm told Mr FitzPatrick that Anglo was going to "solve the problem" of businessman Sean Quinn's eye-watering secret stake in the bank, then towering at almost 30pc.

Mr FitzPatrick told gardai that Mr Drumm told him 10 of the bank's customers were going to take 10pc of Mr Quinn's stake that had been built up using Contracts for Difference (CFDs).

He said he asked who the 10 were but was told by Mr Drumm that he "didn't need to know".

Mr Drumm also gave assurances that the bank was being advised by investment bank Morgan Stanley and that the Financial Regulator would be very happy.

Mr FitzPatrick told gardai that when he got news of the deal, he asked if the investors were "people of substance" and was assured by Mr Drumm that they were.

He also said that he only became aware of the identity of the Maple 10 six months after the deal.

The trial heard much about what Mr FitzPatrick knew or ought to have known of the recourse that would be attached to the Maple 10's €45m loans.

Matt Moran, Anglo's former chief financial officer, said in evidence that Mr FitzPatrick wondered if it was the 'right transaction to do' and whether the 25pc recourse on the Maple loans was enough.

Mr Moran, whose evidence was sought by the jury in their deliberations – and who has received immunity from prosecution – said this conversation took place in his office after the deal was concluded and that it was as if Mr FitzPatrick was "talking aloud".

Another witness, Lar Bradshaw – who was a non-executive director at the time of the deal – testified that Mr FitzPatrick was "annoyed" that 10 businessmen were liable for only a quarter of the €45m lent to them.

Mr Bradshaw said that Mr FitzPatrick called him three weeks after the deal was carried out to complain the Maple 10 owed just 25pc recourse on the borrowings if the shares collapsed and were left worthless.

Donal O'Connor, a former member of the board of Anglo, also said that he thought Mr FitzPatrick looked "surprised" to hear the recourse was in fact 25pc at a dinner for the board that August, several weeks after the transactions were finalised.

Mr O'Higgins told the jury that it was an entirely unreasonable burden for Mr FitzPatrick to "sniff it out and play detective" when faced with Mr Drumm's apparent refusal to share certain details of the transaction.

And he cast doubt on whether the issue of recourse was "in the mix" when the two men spoke on the phone.

Summing up to the jury, Mr O'Higgins returned to the power of story.

"This is an amazing story, nobody comes out of it well," he told the jury.

But Mr FitzPatrick emerged well out of courtroom 19.


Related Content







Most Watched





Privacy