Monday 16 September 2019

What watchdog knew about Anglo 'irrelevant', jury in Drumm trial told

Former CEO of Anglo Irish Bank, David Drumm. Photo: Collins Courts
Former CEO of Anglo Irish Bank, David Drumm. Photo: Collins Courts
Andrew Phelan

Andrew Phelan

What the banking authorities knew about what was going on in Anglo Irish Bank during the financial crisis is "not relevant" to the case against former CEO David Drumm, a judge has told a jury.

Judge Karen O'Connor said the Financial Regulator could not condone criminal behaviour and the jury must consider whether Mr Drumm intended to mislead people about Anglo's strength.

She was delivering her charge to the jury as Mr Drumm's 17-week trial entered its final stage. The judge's charge gives jurors guidance on the legal principles that apply to a case before they begin deliberations on a verdict.

Mr Drumm (51) is pleading not guilty to conspiring to defraud by dishonestly creating the impression that Anglo's customer deposits were €7.2bn larger than they really were in September 2008.

The case centres on a series of inter-bank deposits which circulated between Anglo and Irish Life and Permanent.

Mr Drumm also denies false accounting by providing misleading information to the market.

There are 10 men and four women on the jury, which was enlarged to account for potential drop-outs because of the length of the trial. At the end of the judge's charge, the two "spare" jurors will be selected by ballot to be sent home and the remaining 12 will begin deliberations.

Judge O'Connor first told the jurors they alone were in charge of deciding on the facts.

She asked them to bring their experience, common sense and judgment of human affairs to bear on the evidence.

She told them to put aside any sympathy or strong views they might hold and "approach the evidence in a cold and dispassionate way".

The first principle was Mr Drumm's presumption of innocence and onus was on the prosecution to prove guilt - the defence did not have to prove anything and the jury could not draw any inference from the fact that Mr Drumm had not given evidence. It was up to the jurors to decide whether they regarded the transactions as "real" or if they were entered into dishonestly, she said.

The allegation was an intention to mislead and therefore cause a risk of loss to the economic interests of another.

"What the Central Bank or the Financial Regulator knew about what was going on in Anglo and Irish Life and Permanent is irrelevant to the issues," the judge said. "The Financial Regulator cannot condone criminal behaviour."

She referred to the suggestion that what was done was to "keep the doors open" in Anglo.

"Necessity does not provide any defence," she said, adding that if someone steals food because a child is hungry "it's still theft".

No actual loss or gain by anyone was required to prove the charge, a risk of loss was sufficient.

The judge's charge was due to continue today.

Irish Independent

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