Former Anglo chairman and two executives plead not guilty

Friday 31 January 2014 21.59
Pat Whelan (L), Seán FitzPatrick (C) and William McAteer (R) have pleaded not guilty to the charges
Pat Whelan (L), Seán FitzPatrick (C) and William McAteer (R) have pleaded not guilty to the charges

The former chairman of Anglo Irish Bank and two other former executives of the bank have pleaded not guilty to charges of providing unlawful financial assistance to 16 people to buy shares in the bank.

Former chairman Seán FitzPatrick, of Greystones in Co Wicklow, former head of Irish operations, Pat Whelan, of Malahide in Dublin, and former finance director, William McAteer, of Rathmines in Dublin, all denied the charges.

They were put to them in front of a jury panel at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

Mr Whelan denied a further seven charges of being privy to the fraudulent alteration of a facility letter setting out the terms and conditions relating to security for loans to buy shares in the bank in October 2008.

A jury of 15 people, eight men and seven women, was sworn in to hear the trial, which will begin next Wednesday.

It took around two hours to select a jury. Jury summonses were sent out to 1,500 people, with 350 turning up.

Fifteen people were selected out of around 150 people called into court.

The jurors were told that the case will start on Wednesday and could last until 31 May.

Before the jury was selected, Judge Martin Nolan gave a number of warnings to the jury panel.

He read out a list of potential witnesses in the trial, including businessman Seán Quinn and former employees of the Central Bank and Anglo Irish Bank, and said anyone who knew any of these people should not serve on the jury.

Judge Nolan also warned them that if they had such strong views about Anglo Irish Bank that they felt they could not deal with the matters fairly they should not serve. 

He said if they had expressed strong views on these matters, publicly on the internet or on Facebook, they should not serve.

The judge said they should also exclude themselves from serving on the jury if they had worked for Anglo or a financial services institution, or held shares in a bank.

A large number of people were excused, including people who worked for the Revenue Commissioners, people who worked for a hedge fund, and people who held AIB shares.

There were 19 challenges to jurors from the prosecution and defence.

After the jury was selected, the judge said he wanted to warn them in the strongest possible terms that they should not investigate matters on their own through internet searches or sites or periodicals.

He said he would regard any attempt to investigate matters in this way as a breach of a juror's oath. He warned them not to speak to others about the case.

A post on the website politics.ie was raised with the judge.

The post claimed to be from someone who had been selected to serve on the jury.

The person posted: "I hope I get some time in a nice hotel. We all partied. Message ends."

The judge asked the jurors if any of them had sent the post and warned them not to do such a thing. They were told to come back to court on Wednesday morning.