Court hears FitzPatrick was not involved in Anglo executive decisions after 2005

Thursday 27 March 2014 21.46
Seán FitzPatrick and his co-accused deny giving illegal loans to 16 people to buy shares in the bank
Seán FitzPatrick and his co-accused deny giving illegal loans to 16 people to buy shares in the bank

The former chairman of Anglo Irish Bank told gardaí he was not trying to detach himself from the bank to save himself from blame.   

Seán FitzPatrick told gardaí interviewing him that he was telling the truth.

The Dublin Circuit Criminal Court has heard four interviews carried out by gardaí with Mr FitzPatrick four years ago.

Mr FitzPatrick and two former executives of the bank, Patrick Whelan and William McAteer deny giving illegal loans to 16 people to buy shares in Anglo in July 2008.

Mr FitzPatrick stepped down as chief executive of Anglo Irish Bank in late 2004 and became non-executive chairman of the bank in January 2005. 

David Drumm took over as Chief Executive.

Mr FitzPatrick said he did not have a warm relationship with Mr Drumm. He was never in his house and Mr FitzPatrick was never in Mr Drumm's house. 

He said he did not think Mr Drumm saw him as a threat as Mr Drumm was clearly the boss and he was very careful not to undermine him by trying to have an executive role.

He said if he had been trying to run the show as a non-executive chairman there would have been murder because the executives would have had divided loyalties. 

He agreed with gardaí that he was seen as the "face of Anglo" but denied he was trying to detach himself from the bank by emphasising his non-executive role. 

He told gardaí to show him the proof.

He said he had told them the absolute truth and had answered questions as straight as he could.  He said it was not a game and he was not trying to detach himself to save himself from blame.   

He said the only time he was asked to help at executive level was when he was asked by Mr Drumm to attend a meeting with Seán Quinn in Navan in late 2007. 

Mr FitzPatrick said this was highly unusual. But Mr Drumm felt Mr Quinn had such high regard for Mr FitzPatrick that he felt if he showed his disappointment about Mr Quinn's interest in the banks, it might encourage Mr Quinn to dispose of it.

Mr FitzPatrick told gardaí he was absolutely amazed Mr Quinn was gambling on the bank's share price.  

He said they were shocked to find out Mr Quinn held an interest in around 19% or 20% of the bank at that stage through Contracts for Difference.

He said got a sense that Mr Quinn understood the situation but did not want to sell his CFDs because it would crystallise his losses. He said he and Mr Drumm informed the board.

Mr FitzPatrick said the board wanted the Central Bank and Financial Regulator to be informed and wanted to try to sort the problem out.

He told gardaí he was in France on 9 July 2008 when he got a phone call from Mr Drumm.  

He said Mr Drumm told him they were going to solve the Quinn problem pretty soon and were going to ask ten customers of the bank to purchase 10% of Mr Quinn's interest in the bank. 

He said Mr Drumm told him they were substantive customers but told him he did not need to know their identities as he was keeping it very tight.

He said he only found out the names of the ten around six months after the transaction.

He said Mr Drumm told him they had been advised by investment bank, Morgan Stanley and said the Financial Regulator and the Central bank would be delighted with the deal.

Mr FitzPatrick said he was to tell the board the good news that they were coming to the end of this difficult time.

He was asked by gardaí how he felt about the bank lending money for the transaction. He said it was all "kosher".

He said Mr Drumm was going to do one of the most publicly looked at deals in Ireland and he would not have done something illegal. He said it all stacked up and looked appropriate.

He said clearly the Regulator knew what was going on.

He said he knew Mr Drumm had been talking to the Regulator and he asked how could Mr Drumm have been misleading the Regulator - he said it would have been strong stuff to take a chance on that.

Mr FitzPatrick told gardaí he spoke to Mr Drumm in December 2008.

He said he had sent him a text around Christmas Day that year.