Tuesday 21 November 2017

'Unlawful' practices used in Sean FitzPatrick Anglo probe, court is told

Kevin O’Connell of the ODCE. Photo: Collins Courts
Kevin O’Connell of the ODCE. Photo: Collins Courts

Declan Brennan

Investigators looking into alleged crimes by former Anglo Irish Bank chairman Sean FitzPatrick used "unlawful" practices when taking witness statements, his trial has heard.

Lawyers for Mr FitzPatrick (68), who is accused of misleading auditors about multi-million euro loans, said statements from two auditors were produced as a result of coaching.

On day 72 of the trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, the jury saw a draft statement from Vincent Bergin, the audit manager for Anglo, with numerous changes, including insertions and deletions of entire paragraphs, suggested by investigators.

The evidence emerged during the fourth day of defence cross-examination of Kevin O'Connell, a legal adviser with the Office of Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE), who dealt with witnesses from EY (formerly Ernst & Young), Anglo's auditors from 2002 to 2008.

The document titled 'draft statement by Vincent Bergin' and dated November 1, 2010, was circulated to a number of people in the ODCE, including Mr O'Connell and his then boss Paul Appleby, the director of corporate enforcement.

These people suggested changes to the document and Mr O'Connell said he then distilled "the shared viewpoint" that was finally settled on.

The jury was shown various versions of the document with new sections inserted, other sections crossed out or deleted, and others marked with the words 'drop' or 'delete'.

Bernard Condon SC, defending, compared the process to the "hokey cokey".

"It goes in and it goes out. The statement is just shaken out. A meeting of bits going in and bits going out," he said.

Mr O'Connell agreed the process was wrong and inappropriate. Mr Condon told the court that rulings by Judge Mary Ellen Ring during a trial in 2015 and by Judge John Aylmer during the current trial found it was an unlawful practice.

Irish Independent

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