Tuesday 25 June 2019

Wife of former Anglo chairman Sean Fitzpatrick claims €6m in assets battle

Catriona Fitzpatrick, wife of Sean Fitzpatrick, pictured leaving the Four Courts. Photo: Collins Courts
Catriona Fitzpatrick, wife of Sean Fitzpatrick, pictured leaving the Four Courts. Photo: Collins Courts

Tim Healy

CATRIONA Fitzpatrick, the wife of Sean Fitzpatrick, the former chairman of the collapsed Anglo Irish Bank, is claiming around €6m in assets some of which were jointly held by the couple before her husband was declared bankrupt in 2010, the High Court heard.

Mrs Fitzpatrick was giving evidence on the second day of the hearing of three actions relating to whether she has any interest in assets which were the subject of the bankruptcy.   Mr Fitzpatrick was declared bankrupt with assets of some €47m and debts of €147m and has since exited bankruptcy.

Mrs Fitzpatick has brought proceedings against Chris Lehane official assignee (OA) in bankruptcy and her husband (as the bankrupt) claiming she has an entitlement to various assets which the court heard include property, shares and bonds. 

The OA, in the estate of Mr Fitzpatrick, has brought his own proceedings against Mrs Fitzpatrick and the couple's three children, David, Jonathan and Sara Fitzpatrick while Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC) which took over Anglo, has brought separate related proceedings against Mrs Fitzpatrick, in which it denies she is entitled to claim monies loaned to fund asset investments  or that the loans were given on a non-recourse basis to her.

The court heard that when the couple refinanced their loans in 2009, she was aware the amount owed by them in loans for their investments was around €80m.  Mrs Fitzpatrick said repeatedly she was not aware of the detail of of all those and left he figures and paperwork entirely to her husband.

Mrs Fitzpatrick, who  worked as a secretary before she married Sean in 1974, told her counsel Gerard Durcan, said most of the investments came after Sean became non-executive chairman of Anglo in 2005.

She said she and Sean jointly held shares in Anglo which got more valuable as Anglo got bigger.

They had joint deposit and borrowing account which she just had a general knowledge of but repeatedly said she did know the detail of what assets they related to. 

When Sean asked her to sign documents she just did it, "sometimes in the middle of dinner".  She agreed theirs was a traditional marriage and unlike the way young people do things today.

In their early days, including before they were married and when Sean was studying to be a chartered accountant, they had very little money were were "dong our best as every young couple does".

Things improved later and Sean bought her "a lovely ring for our 20th wedding anniversary".   He was a good provider and she never worried about money, she said.

She had good  knowledge investments of their main property, including their home in Greystones, Co Wicklow, a townhouse and an apartment in Malaga, Spain, for holidays, and a site at he back of their home.

When it came to other investments she left the details to Sean who would have different investments, including short-term investments which he did not hold on to very long because he would get a good interest rate, she said.

She also knew Sean had a very good pension and when he retired from Anglo they were very comfortably off.

They did not lead an extravagant lifestyle;  "Money was not my common denominator, we wanted it for security but I did not lead an extravagant lifestyle at all".

She said the apartment in Spain was "not greatly luxurious, it is nice but just your general holiday apartment."

"We were not going to be living there, I never wanted a villa or anything like that, an apartment was fine".

She said they later bought the Malaga townhouse so that their three children, who are aged between 33 and 41, could have somewhere to stay.

She just had a general idea of her husband's investments because "he was involved in finance and knew what he was doing".  

Everything he did was the the sake of the family, she said.

Cross examined by Paul Gallagher SC, for the OA, Mrs Fitzpatrick initially couldn't remember exactly how much she was claiming in her case but then said "about six million, sorry".

Mr Gallagher said one of the bases for her claim to entitlement in her husband's assets was that she had provided €320,000 in interest payments in relation to those investments.   Asked did she know which of the 18 assets which are the subject of this claim were referable to those interest payments, she said she had no idea

She said Sean provided all the figures and paperwork which were prepared for this case.

Mrs Fitzpatrick told Mr Gallagher she had no idea about how many of the loans related to assets over which she claims she has a €6m interest remain unpaid.

The case continues before Ms Justice Marie Baker.

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