McAteer says he had no direct part in transaction to unwind Quinn's position in Anglo

Wednesday 26 March 2014 22.23
Patrick Whelan, Seán FitzPatrick and William McAteer deny the charges
Patrick Whelan, Seán FitzPatrick and William McAteer deny the charges

The former finance director of Anglo Irish Bank, William McAteer, told gardaí he had no direct part in the July 2008 transaction to unwind Seán Quinn's position in the bank and was not instrumental to it.

The transaction is the subject of criminal charges against Mr McAteer, as well as the bank's former chairman Seán FitzPatrick and former director of Irish lending Patrick Whelan.

All three men deny giving illegal loans to 16 people to buy shares in the bank in July 2008.

The jury heard interviews conducted by gardaí with Mr McAteer.

Mr McAteer told gardaí he could not remember if he had been in the office on 14 July 2008, which is the day the transaction to unwind Mr Quinn's interest in the bank was executed.

He said he was aware of the transaction but was not involved in the actual unravelling of Mr Quinn's position.

Mr McAteer said his team was involved and acknowledged they would have been keeping him informed.

He said the implementation of the transaction was his responsibility and he was not involved in the lending to those involved.

Mr McAteer said he was made aware of the identities of the Maple Ten and the terms of the lending to them sometime in July 2008.

He told gardaí he certainly was not instrumental to the transaction.

Mr McAteer said he was certainly aware of the broad transaction and instructed people to make sure everything was done properly.

He said he was not involved in every detail of the transaction.

Court hears from one of 'Maple Ten'

The court has also been hearing evidence from a seventh member of the so-called Maple Ten - the customers of Anglo Irish Bank who were lent money to buy Anglo shares as part of the transaction to unwind Mr Quinn's interest in the bank.

Developer Seamus Ross, whose company Menolly Homes was one of the largest house builders in the country, gave evidence that he had been called into a meeting with Mr Whelan and Anglo's former chief executive, David Drumm, on 11 July 2008.

He said he thought the meeting was about his own loans with the bank and got a bit of a surprise when he was told what it was about.

He said he was told Mr Quinn had a large interest in the bank and the Financial Regulator wanted it to be reduced.

He said he was told the bank had gathered some people together to help the bank by buying the shares which the bank would sell on in a few months.

He said he was told he was the last of the group of people to be approached.

Mr Ross said he was told this would be helping out the bank and the Financial Regulator.

He said he thought it was bad news and was not happy there was a problem.

He said he was also surprised the loan to buy the shares would be in his own personal name.

But he understood he had no personal liability to repay the loan.

Mr Ross said it was a short meeting and he agreed to go ahead and help the bank.

He said he was happy to do so as they had helped him out earlier in life.

He said he signed whatever documents were put in front of him and he left.

Mr Ross said at the time he was involved in a lengthy court case and there were "hundreds of people" knocking on his door, saying their houses were falling down with pyrite.

He said this happened in the middle of the case.

He said he was 100% focused on the court case and this was not even on his radar.

Ross asked about facility letters

The former billionaire builder was asked about facility letters he had signed in relation to the transaction at the centre of the case.

The court has heard there was a facility letter issued on 10 July 2008, which provided for the borrowers to be personally liable to repay 25% of the loans.

A second letter was prepared in October, but dated 17 July 2008, which removed the personal liability.

A third letter was dated 5 January 2009 reinstated the 25% recourse.

Mr Ross said it was his belief that he was never personally liable to repay the loans. Under cross-examination, he said he was very confused even today about the different letters.

Senior Counsel Brendan Grehan for Mr Whelan said his instructions were that Mr Ross drove a hard bargain with the banks.

Mr Ross said that was part of his skill and agreed he fought tooth and nail when it came to recourse.

He said it would have been the norm for him to play one bank off against another. His personal recourse on other Anglo borrowings was only 10%.

Mr Grehan put it to him that as a billionaire businessman with multiple dealings all over the world, a man who drove the hardest bargain of anyone, he would have known well the significance of signing the letters.

He agreed this was very true. He agreed he was a hard-nosed businessman, but said was also a "nice fella".

Mr Ross agreed that when he was making his statement to gardaí in 2011, his circumstances had changed dramatically and he would have been trying to find a way out of any personal guarantees he had given in relation to loans.

He had not sold any of the shares and would have been liable to repay around €12m of the €45m loan.

Mr Grehan suggested to him that it was possible he had muddled the three letters in his mind and that had chosen the one that suited him best to recall.

Mr Ross said that human nature being what it was that was, of course, exactly what happened.

He said no one from Anglo suggested that he put up any of his own money to buy the shares.

It is expected the court may begin hearing statements made by Mr FitzPatrick to gardaí tomorrow.