Three Anglo Irish executives blamed for Irish banking crisis go on trial

Gavel

The trial of senior executives at the bank that almost bankrupted Ireland begins this week with tight security around the Dublin courthouse where the men being blamed for the Irish banking crisis are to be tried.

It will be one of the most complex and controversial trials in the history of European financial crime, with hundreds of witnesses, millions of documents and a trio regarded as national hate figures in Ireland.

Three leading figures in the now defunct and disgraced Anglo Irish Bank – Sean FitzPatrick, Pat Whelan and William McAteer – will each face 16 charges of unlawfully providing financial assistance to individuals for the purpose of buying shares in Anglo Irish Bank in 2008.

All of the charges relate to a specific person who allegedly received financial assistance between 10 July and 17 July 2008. The trio of former top bankers deny all the charges against them.

Among the star witnesses expected to give evidence will be Ireland's one-time richest man, Sean Quinn, who borrowed billions from the bank to fund a global property portfolio during the Celtic Tiger boom years. When property prices collapsed across the world, Quinn owed billions and had to file for bankruptcy.

A jury of eight men and seven women have been sworn in at the Dublin circuit criminal court, where the trial begins on Wednesday morning. It will be the first time in Irish criminal history that an extended jury of 15 has been selected to hear a major case.

Around 350 people volunteered to serve on the jury, giving an indication of the interest in the upcoming trial, which is expected to last for three to six months.

Judge Martin Nolan told the assembled panel that any past or present Anglo Irish Bank employees should not serve on the jury and said anyone who has expressed "strong public views" on Anglo Irish – including on Facebook and other social media networks – or who owns shares in any bank were prohibited from serving.

Among the persons alleged to have been given financial assistance from the three Anglo Irish Bank bosses are Sean Quinn Junior and his mother Patricia.

The 16 people named in the charges are: Patricia Quinn; Sean Quinn Junior; Collete Marie Quinn; Aoife Quinn; Brenda Quinn; Ciara Quinn; Paddy McKillen; Séamus Ross; Brian O'Farrell; John McCabe; Gerard Maguire; Patrick Kearney; Gerard Conlon; Gerard Gannon; Seán Reilly and Joseph O'Reilly.

The charges relating to Patricia Quinn are alleged to have occurred between 10 July and 18 July 2008.

Forty two officers in the Garda Siochana are expected to give evidence along with former employees at the Anglo Irish Bank and staff from Ireland's central bank. Overall, up to 24m documents and 800 witness statements will have to be examined during the complex financial trial. The Irish court service has opened an extra courtroom for the public to watch the unfolding trial on video link next door such is the public interest in the trial.

There is expected to be a heavy security present around the courthouse in case of demonstrations against the bankers on trial.

There have been previous protests outside the home of Sean FitzPatrick in Co Wicklow and in addition back in 2010 a general threat from dissident republicans in a communique to the Guardian that they were monitoring the actions of "banks and bankers" in Ireland.

Around €30bn of taxpayers money had to be pumped into the bank in 2008 to rescue it and the entire Irish banking system from total collapse. The bank has since been nationalised and renamed as the Irish Banking Resolution Corporation.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Henry McDonald in Dublin, for theguardian.com on Monday 3rd February 2014 15.00 Europe/London

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010

 

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