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Friday 30 September 2016

Anglo executives guilty of €7.2bn conspiracy after longest-running trial in the history of the State

Lawyers for the Anglo accused had argued that their clients believed that the deposits were real deposits and were accounted for correctly on Anglo's balance sheet and so no fraud was carried out (Picture: PA)
Lawyers for the Anglo accused had argued that their clients believed that the deposits were real deposits and were accounted for correctly on Anglo's balance sheet and so no fraud was carried out (Picture: PA)

Two former executives from Anglo Irish Bank have been found guilty of conspiring to defraud the public in 2008.

On day 84 of the longest- running criminal trial in the State's history, the jury at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court returned the majority verdicts.

The verdict comes after 38 hours of deliberations - the longest jury deliberations in the State's history.

The jury is still considering charges against two Irish Life and Permanent (ILP) bankers who were alleged to have taken part in the €7.2 billion conspiracy.

Anglo's former head of debt capital markets, John Bowe (52), and the bank's then finance director, Willie McAteer (65), were on trial accused of conspiring to mislead investors, depositors and lenders about the true health of Anglo.

Bail

Judge Martin Nolan remanded the men on continuing bail until Friday. "Obviously, you don't have to be here tomorrow gentlemen," the judge told McAteer and Bowe. There was no reaction from the men when the verdicts were read out.

Jurors will continue deliberations today on charges against former chief executive of Irish Life & Permanent (ILP) Denis Casey (56), and his finance director in 2008, Peter Fitzpatrick (63)

Willie McAteer, former finance director with Anglo Irish Bank (Picture: Collins Courts)
Willie McAteer, former finance director with Anglo Irish Bank (Picture: Collins Courts)

Bowe, from Glasnevin, Dublin; McAteer of Greenrath, Tipperary Town, Co. Tipperary; Casey, from Raheny, Dublin, and Fitzpatrick, of Convent Lane, Portmarnock, Dublin, all pleaded not guilty to conspiring together and with others to mislead investors by setting up a €7.2 billion circular transaction scheme between March 1 and September 30, 2008, to bolster Anglo's balance sheet.

The State's case was that the four men were involved in setting up a circular scheme of billion euro transactions where Anglo lent money to ILP and ILP sent the money back, via their assurance firm Irish Life Assurance, to Anglo.

Deposits

The scheme was designed so that the deposits came from the assurance company and would be treated as customer deposits, which are considered a better measure of a bank's strength than inter-bank loans.

The €7.2 billion deposit was later accounted for in Anglo's preliminary results on December 3, 2008, as part of Anglo's customer deposits figure.

The prosecution alleged that the entire objective of the scheme was to mislead anybody reading Anglo's accounts by artificially inflating the customer deposits number from €44bn to €51bn, a difference of 16pc.

John Bowe, Anglo’s former head of capital markets, was found guilty of fraud (Picture: Collins Courts)
John Bowe, Anglo’s former head of capital markets, was found guilty of fraud (Picture: Collins Courts)

Lawyers for the Anglo accused had argued that their clients believed that the deposits were real deposits and were accounted for correctly on Anglo's balance sheet and so no fraud was carried out.

The prosecution argued there was no commercial substance to the transactions and the only purpose was to deceive.

"They take a vast amount of time and trouble and they amount to one large candy floss whose only conceivable purpose is to bolster up and artificially inflate the Anglo customer deposit. That is manifestly dishonest and was done with dishonest intent," Paul O'Higgins, SC, told the jury.

Lawyers defending the former ILP executives argued that their clients had no control over how Anglo would account for the deposits and had no intention to mislead the public.

Inconceivable

The prosecution argued that it was inconceivable that high- level banking professionals, who were trained accountants and in the business of supervising the financial industry and doing deals, wouldn't have known "full well what Anglo were doing".

Una Ni Raifeartaigh, SC, for the DPP, said that if Anglo did not present the deal in the way they did, and so misleading the public, there would have been no point in doing the deal at all.

She told the jurors: "These are not stupid or inexperienced people. These are experienced bankers. Do you find it reasonably credible, that they did this deal, thinking Anglo was doing it as an exercise in futility?"

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