Sentencing hearing for former Anglo directors Whelan and McAteer

Monday 28 April 2014 21.56
Patrick Whelan and William McAteer were found guilty of giving illegal loans
Patrick Whelan and William McAteer were found guilty of giving illegal loans

The solicitor advising Anglo Irish Bank in July 2008 has said he did not know the bank was lending money to ten developers to buy shares in Anglo at the time that he was advising the bank.

Robert Herron said he did not give positive legal advice about the transaction at the centre of the criminal proceedings against former executives of the bank.   

He said his legal advice did not cover the ten developers, known as the Maple 10, as he did not know there was any lending by the bank to them.

Two former directors of the bank, Patrick Whelan and William McAteer are due to be sentenced for giving illegal loans to the Maple 10 in breach of Section 60 of the Companies Act.

Whelan is Anglo's former director of lending in Ireland, while McAteer is Anglo's former finance director.

It was the first criminal prosecution for this offence in Ireland.

Mr Herron, who worked for Matheson, Ormsby and Prentice solicitors, has been called by the prosecution to give evidence at the sentencing hearing on the issue of legal advice and its role in mitigation.

Prosecuting lawyer, Paul O'Higgins said the State was saying there was significant evidence that there was no legal advice at all about whether the lending to the Maple 10 was lawful and he said this was surely significant.

Defence lawyers said the two men were told by others in the bank that there was positive legal advice about the transaction and it was their state of mind that was relevant.

Mr Herron told the court that he had no knowledge that there was any lending to the Maple 10 while the transaction was being executed.

He said he was made aware there would be lending to members of the Quinn family.  

He said he told the bank that this could fall within the exemption in the legislation which allows a bank to lend money to buy its own shares provided it is in the ordinary course of the bank's business.   

He said he could not recall the details of a call he was involved in on 12 July 2008, with investment bank Morgan Stanley and Anglo officials.

The court heard the only written document which exists relating to the legal advice is a document dated 22 July 2008, more than a week after the transaction went through.

The loans were part of a scheme to unwind the interest businessman Seán Quinn held in Anglo and stabilise the bank's share price.

Both men were acquitted of providing illegal loans to six members of Mr Quinn's family for the same purpose.

The jury deliberated for almost 17 hours over five days.

The bank's former chairman, Seán FitzPatrick, was earlier acquitted of all charges.

Judge Martin Nolan told the jurors a number of matters, including the actions of the Financial Regulator, were irrelevant to their decision.

However, he indicated in legal argument he could take these matters into account in sentencing.

Judge Nolan has also said that he will hear evidence today, but he is unlikely to give his decision immediately.

Sentencing hearings usually involve a summary of the evidence followed by submissions on behalf of those convicted.

The maximum sentence for the offence is five years in prison.