Anglo jury to resume deliberations on Monday

Friday 11 April 2014 22.49
Patrick Whelan, Seán FitzPatrick and William McAteer deny all charges against them
Patrick Whelan, Seán FitzPatrick and William McAteer deny all charges against them

The jury in the Anglo Irish Bank trial has been sent home for the weekend and will resume deliberating on its verdicts on Monday, over ten weeks after the trial began at the Circuit Criminal Court.

The jury was earlier reduced to 12 members from 14 after a ballot.

Extra jurors had been sworn in at the start of the trial because of its expected length.

Seán FitzPatrick, the bank's former chairman, as well as two former directors of the bank, Patrick Whelan and William McAteer, deny giving illegal loans to ten customers of the bank to buy shares in Anglo in July 2008.

Mr Whelan and Mr McAteer also deny giving illegal loans to six members of Seán Quinn's family.

In his charge to the jury, Judge Martin Nolan told the jurors they must leave any prejudice they might have about bankers at the door of the jury room.

Judge Nolan said they must be dispassionate and leave emotion out.

He told them to be a juror you must be courageous and have moral courage and do what you think is right.

Judge Nolan said they were not entitled to visit upon the accused men the financial calamity of the country.

They were not entitled to use what happened after the collapse of Lehman against the accused. He said that would be "incredibly unfair" and "you cannot do that".

He said the jurors must be certain of the guilt of the accused men before they could convict and must be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt.

If they did not believe the prosecution's evidence they must acquit.

He told them that in order to convict they must be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the funds were actually given.

They should then go on to consider if the over-arching purpose was to stabilise the share price in the unwinding of Seán Quinn's position and if the loans were not in the ordinary course of business.

He said they must be satisfied that Mr Whelan and Mr McAteer knew of the scheme, knew of the details and if they did, did they take any steps to stop it.

In the case of Mr Fitzpatrick, they must ask did he know before it was executed that Anglo was going to provide funding to ten people to buy Anglo shares and that the purpose was to ensure share price stability.

Before they can convict him they must be able to answer that question in the affirmative beyond reasonable doubt. They must also be sure that he took no reasonable steps to stop it. 

If they could not answer yes to any of those questions the prosecution must fail, he said.

Judge Nolan said the attitude or actions of the Financial Regulator are totally irrelevant in this case, as was the involvement of Morgan Stanley.

He said any legal advice or mention of legal advice is totally irrelevant and any steps taken by the three accused in relation to whether the scheme was legal or not.

Judge Nolan said; "This might seem totally unfair that the belief of the defendants as to the legality or the illegality does not matter, but that is the case and I'm directing you as a matter of law.

"There are a small amount of cases that people sometimes commit crimes without knowing it is a crime but that is totally irrelevant.

"This is a matter to coldly analyse the facts and decide on the issues, you must decide this without sympathy.

"You do this without ill will to any man."

Anglo deal like '1916 in reverse', trial hears

Earlier, lawyers for Mr FitzPatrick told the Circuit Criminal Court that everyone was "gloriously happy" that the transaction at the centre of the Anglo trial had been done, until the climate changed.

Senior Counsel Michael O'Higgins told the jury that history had been rewritten in this case.

He said everyone had been gloriously happy after the transaction, until the climate changed.

He said it was like 1916 in reverse. He said when the lads were taken out of the GPO they were treated risibly by the people of Dublin, but when they were executed they were heroes.

Mr O'Higgins said everyone had been relieved and happy and did not have a problem with this transaction, but in the light of subsequent events and in the light of viciousness and unfocused anger, it began to be looked at in a different light and the ground started to shift.

Mr O'Higgins said he acknowledged it was not a great time to be on trial as a banker.

He said a banker might ask if they would get a fair trial.

But he said his answer would be yes, because the jury system had been tried and tested over centuries and Irish juries had an impeccable reputation.

He told the jury it must try the case and give its verdict according to the evidence and just the evidence.

Mr O'Higgins said there should be a natural tension between bankers and their customers, but for a time everyone had become friends.

He said the old regime had now been reinstated and we all hated our bank managers again.

He criticised the prosecution for "casually criminalising" the Financial Regulator by suggesting the regulator could have been charged in relation to this transaction.

Mr O'Higgins told the jury this was a very difficult case to determine and he did not underestimate the task it faced.

He asked it to give the arguments on behalf of Mr FitzPatrick its full consideration and said Mr FitzPatrick could not expect anything less.

Counsel for Mr McAteer, Patrick Gageby, told the jury his client would not be in court were it not for the actions of Mr Quinn.

He said Mr Quinn had made a spectacular gamble on Anglo shares and lost billions.

While he had received an administrative sanction not even equivalent to a district court conviction, those who had to deal with the aftermath were now in the dock.

He said while the circumstances surrounding the loans were not ordinary, the lending was in the ordinary course of business for a bank and was not illegal.

The two things should not be confused, he said.

He said the prosecution had alleged late in the day that the whole scheme was unlawful not just the lending.  

The prosecution was saying it was a fraud on the market. But he said nowhere would you find that assertion in any of the charges. 

There was no charge relating to a fraud on the market.

Mr McAteer asked if this trial was about how Mr McAteer had breached his duty as a director by failing to ensure the company was in compliance with the legislation, then what was it the prosecution said he ought to have done or not done.

He asked what steps should he have taken that he did not take.

He said Mr McAteer had laid out his involvement in his garda interviews and that he had been given instructions by David Drumm and had passed them on to Matt Moran, Anglo's chief financial officer.  

He was not claiming ignorance, he was not blaming anyone else.

He asked how any director ensures that a company is in compliance with the Companies Act. 

He said people in a bank had different functions. You do not buy a dog and bark yourself.

He said the jury had to be satisfied that on each of the 16 charges there was some class of criminal lending. There was no 17th charge of a fraud on the market.

He said Mr McAteer was not in breach of his duty. He was not in the middle of some great crime or 16 crimes.   

He asked them to go through each of the 16 charges and to find Mr McAteer not guilty.