Tuesday 21 November 2017

Sean FitzPatrick's bankruptcy case delayed over 'prejudice' claim

Dearbhail McDonald Legal Editor

THE Director of Public Prosecutions is considering whether to intervene in former Anglo Irish Bank CEO Sean FitzPatrick's bankruptcy in case it prejudices his forthcoming criminal trial.

The former Anglo chairman, who is estimated to have debts of €150m and assets of €47m, has been sent forward for trial along with two former colleagues at Anglo (now IBRC).

But his criminal defence solicitor Michael Staines told the High Court that he had written in recent weeks to the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Mr Staines has asked the High Court not to go ahead with part of bankruptcy proceedings, which could see Mr FitzPatrick cross-examined in court about certain matters, until the criminal case against Mr FitzPatrick is over.

High Court Judge Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne said that it was "bizarre and unusual" that Mr FitzPatrick had two different legal representatives -- one for the bankruptcy and one for the criminal trial -- appear at the bankruptcy court on his behalf.

Judge Dunne said she was concerned if Mr FitzPatrick, who was declared bankrupt in July 2010, was giving the same instructions to both sets of legal representatives.

Ownership

Mr Staines assured Judge Dunne that Mr FitzPatrick was.

The solicitor said that it was possible the DPP would also ask the court to adjourn the case.

Last July the High Court was told the official assignee, the court official handling Mr FitzPatrick's bankruptcy, wanted to probe the former banker about the ownership of a large London office investment property.

The application by the official assignee to question Mr FitzPatrick had previously been adjourned to allow statements to be submitted to the court.

It was adjourned once again yesterday for a further two weeks by Judge Dunne who asked Mr FitzPatrick's legal team to lodge sworn statements setting out their submissions on the issue of prejudice.

Another High Court action involving the IBRC and a former employee has already been adjourned for similar reasons.

Earlier this month, a High Court civil action by the IBRC against Anglo's former head of lending Thomas Browne was adjourned pending the outcome of criminal proceedings under way against Mr FitzPatrick and senior executive Pat Whelan.

The case against Thomas Browne relates to over €50m in loans advanced to him by the bank.

Mr Browne, of Ferney Hill, Brighton Road, Foxrock, Dublin, was seeking to call Mr FitzPatrick and Mr Whelan as witnesses.

Lawyers for the DPP told the High Court that although the DPP was not conceding that there would be a real risk of prejudicing the criminal proceedings, it would be safer to adjourn the civil case.

Irish Independent

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