| 13.4°C Dublin

FitzPatrick now staring at criminal charges as DPP turns up the heat

CRIMINAL charges against Sean FitzPatrick look to be on the cards following a move to prevent professional disciplinary proceedings against the disgraced banker.

The intervention by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) James Hamilton is being seen as the strongest indication yet that Mr FitzPatrick will be charged. The former Anglo Irish Bank chairman had been due to appear before a public tribunal of the Chartered Accountants Regulatory Board (CARB) next month.

However, the DPP asked for a postponement of the proceedings in case they prejudiced possible future charges.

Garda fraud detectives and the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) have been probing Anglo for over two years and files have been submitted to the DPP.

The CARB adjourned its disciplinary proceedings against Mr FitzPatrick following a request from DPP James Hamilton.

"The DPP expressed his concern that the holding of public hearings and the publication of findings might prejudice future criminal proceedings in the event that a prosecution is directed against any party arising from the investigations of An Garda Siochana and the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement," the CARB stated.

"A prima facie case against Mr FitzPatrick was established by special investigator John Purcell, when he reported to CARB's Complaints Committee in December 2010.

"However, following a request from the DPP, CARB has now decided to adjourn this disciplinary tribunal," it added.





Transfer

The regulatory board had intended questioning Mr FitzPatrick about the movement of more than €7bn between Anglo and Irish Life & Permanent (IL&P).

Among the other matters it wanted to probe was the temporary transfer of up to €100m of Mr Fitzpatrick's own loans off the books of Anglo. CARB has the power to fine and ban accountants found guilty of misconduct.

Former Comptroller and Auditor General John Purcell was hired to investigate Mr FitzPatrick as well as other bankers.

He found the 62-year-old had a prima facie case to answer.

However, the case has now been adjourned until October.

Mr Purcell also found former Anglo Irish finance director Willie McAteer (60), former Anglo chief executive David Drumm (44), and former IL&P finance director Peter Fitzpatrick (58) had cases to answer as well.

Mr FitzPatrick was arrested by fraud squad officers after a dawn raid in March last year. He had stepped down from Anglo in December 2008 when it emerged he had loans worth €87m with the institution.

Over eight years up to 2007, Mr FitzPatrick temporarily transferred loans with Anglo to another bank before the annual report was audited. It later emerged that the loan reached as much as €129m.

comurphy@herald.ie