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Monday 20 January 2020

Seanie Fitzpatrick’s rough night in busy garda cell

TIGHTLIPPED: Sean FitzPatrick leaving Bray garda station yesterday. Photo: Gerry Mooney
TIGHTLIPPED: Sean FitzPatrick leaving Bray garda station yesterday. Photo: Gerry Mooney


Sean FitzPatrick may have breezed through the last three years on golf courses and foreign holidays since the collapse of Anglo Irish Bank, but he spent at least one sleepless night in Bray garda station yesterday.

The station was busy with the usual Friday night/Saturday morning drunks who kept the banker awake for much of the night, according to sources. But the former bank chairman emerged yesterday afternoon with the trademark smile back on his face, refusing to answer questions and was driven off in a black Volkswagen Golf.

Mr FitzPatrick was held for the maximum 24 hours including the mandatory eight hours of sleep from midnight to 8am. His first hours in a cell were not comfortable. The station was busy with loud drunks and young men arrested on public order offences.

It is understood he was "grumpy" when he was returned to the interview suite for questioning by detectives from the Garda National Fraud Bureau, assisted by officials from the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) yesterday morning.

Wicklow Chief Superintendent Tom Conway was on hand yesterday in case the detectives required an extension of Mr Fitzpatrick's detention for a further 24 hours, but he left at midday when it was decided questioning would be brought to an end. Mr FitzPatrick's solicitor called to the station shortly after and left after about 20 minutes.

Mr FitzPatrick's son called to the station an hour later and emerged with his father's overnight bag. At 2pm, the son pulled his car up at the station entrance and Mr FitzPatrick emerged and was driven off.

It is understood the latest arrest -- now the second time he has been arrested and brought to Bray station -- is to pave the way for the bringing of charges on the basis of extensive files that have been with the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) since early summer.

The garda investigation is the biggest financial fraud case ever undertaken, with millions of emails and phone calls being examined to establish a case. The investigators have also been assisted by former Anglo employees who have given what is understood to be invaluable assistance in the enquiry.

Mr FitzPatrick's detention was so that the established details of the alleged fraud at Anglo could be put to him prior to the completion of the garda file and its final submission to the DPP. This should be completed within the next few months, sources say.

The questioning concerned possible breaches of the Companies Act, relating to the suspected failure of Anglo to maintain a register of loans and other transactions between the bank and its directors and associated persons as well as the provision of a loan to an Anglo director.

Gardai have also questioned Anglo's former finance director, Willie McAteer, twice.

Sunday Independent

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