DUBLIN Feb 5 Ireland's collapsed Anglo Irish
Bank decided to do something "absolutely illegal" by lending
money to individuals so they could buy the bank's own shares,
prosecutors said on Wednesday.
Three former executives of Anglo Irish - former chairman and
chief executive Sean FitzPatrick and two others, Willie McAteer
and Pat Whelan - last week pleaded not guilty to charges of
providing unlawful financial assistance.
It is the first trial of bankers since the collapse of
Ireland's financial system forced the government to seek an
The three are accused of having provided loans to investors
known as the "Maple Ten" and to the wife and five children of
bankrupt businessman Sean Quinn to enable them to buy shares in
the bank, boosting its stock price. The maximum possible
sentence is five years in prison for each charge.
Paul O'Higgins, prosecuting counsel, said Anglo Irish
discovered in 2007 that a large part of it was owned by Quinn
and was concerned that it was heavily exposed to the fortunes of
"Some time around the 8th of July 2008, Anglo decided to do
something the prosecution say was absolutely illegal," O'Higgins
told the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.
"Prosecution says Mr Whelan was very much involved in
carrying out the transaction, Mr McAteer was involved, but not
as involved in carrying out the transaction, but knew all about
them and Mr FitzPatrick as chairman was told about the lending,"
"How much exactly he knew about the transaction will be a
matter for you. The prosecution will say he did nothing to stop
it in any way and he authorised it."
Ireland's banking crisis cost taxpayers more than 60 billion
euros ($81 billion), or about two-fifths of national output,
forcing it to take an emergency package in 2010 from the
European Union and International Monetary Fund.
Though Dublin has now completed its bailout and growth has
returned, it still has one of Europe's highest levels of
national debt and has to make more painful changes to ensure its
economy is on solid foundations.
Whelan, the bank's former managing director for Ireland,
faces seven more charges that he was privy to fraudulent
alteration of facility letters addressed to seven investors
relating to terms for loans. He also pleaded not guilty to those
Anglo Irish, whose failure cost Irish taxpayers some 30
billion euros, was put into an accelerated liquidation process