The man who built the bank that almost brought the Irish economy to its knees has been charged with fraud.
Sean FitzPatrick, former Anglo Irish Bank chief executive and chairman, joins two of his boardroom generals on the same 16 charges of trying to falsely inflate the toxic lender’s share price in 2008. And like accused senior executives Willie McAteer and Pat Whelan, the bankrupt veteran banker faces up to five years in jail and fines of more than €3,100 for each offence if found guilty.
The 64-year-old’s arrest off an early morning flight from Atlanta, USA, and appearance at Dublin’s Criminal Courts of Justice was the result of a three-and-a-half-year investigation by the garda fraud squad and business watchdog, the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement.
It was sparked after Anglo – which has cost the Irish taxpayer €30bn – was nationalised in early 2009.
The 16 charges are linked to loans of €451m in an alleged insider trading plot involving the family of bankrupt former billionaire Sean Quinn and a golden circle of Anglo clients handpicked to prop up the share price.
FitzPatrick, bank chairman at the time of the alleged scam in July 2008 and declared bankrupt two years later, was bailed to appear before the District Court again on October 8.
He will be reunited there with McAteer and Whelan as they await trial.
The court was told that FitzPatrick, of Whitshed Road, Greystones, Co Wicklow, volunteered to return from the US for arrest. He replied no comment to each charge, the court heard.
Each offence, under section 60 of the Companies Act, relates to advising on and lending millions to Sean Quinn’s wife Patricia and his five children Sean junior, Colette Marie, Aoife, Ciara and Brendan. Sean junior is serving three months in jail for contempt of court after trying to hide €500m of property assets as the rebranded Anglo, the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC), chases the family for debts of €2.8bn.
Those unprecedented losses were run up by Sean senior after he gambled on Anglo stock and lost.
Quinn, also in contempt but spared jail, secretly built up a stake of at least 25% in Anglo using contracts for difference where he could trade shares without revealing ownership. With the share price collapse of March 2008, it is alleged that the bank loaned out huge sums of money to the Quinns and the so-called Maple 10 investors to buy some of his shareholding rather than let it flood the market and compound losses.
Tanned and wearing a navy blazer, blue shirt, bright pink tie and chinos, FitzPatrick sat defensively with his arms folded throughout the short hearing. He quickly glanced around the packed courtroom for his family before settling in to his surroundings.