by Sarah-Jane Murphy
A former Anglo Irish Bank official has gone on trial charged with conspiring to destroy, mutilate or falsify records of accounts allegedly connected to the bank's former chief executive Sean FitzPatrick.
Tiarnan O'Mahoney (58), who held the position of Chief Operations Officer at Anglo Irish Bank Corp PLC, has pleaded not guilty to a charge that he conspired to destroy, mutilate or falsify books and documents affecting or relating to the property or affairs of Anglo Irish Bank Corp PLC.
Mr O'Mahoney of Glen Pines, Enniskerry, Co Wicklow has also pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to conspiracy to defraud the Revenue Commissioners.
The offences are alleged to have occurred between March 25, 2003, and December 31, 2004, and refer to eight named bank accounts.
Opening the case Dominic McGinn SC, prosecuting, told the jury that all eight bank accounts were “to a greater or lesser extent” connected to Mr FitzPatrick.
Mr McGinn said the prosecution would demonstrate that Mr O'Mahoney conspired to delete six accounts from the bank's electronic record system and to disguise the identity of two further accounts.
The court heard that the alleged offences took place at a time when Revenue were investigating Irish banks in relation to bogus non-resident accounts.
He explained that these accounts were held by individuals who falsely claimed to live outside the State in order to avail of the exemption from Deposit Interest Retention Tax (DIRT).
“While Revenue were auditing Anglo accounts in 2003 they asked for a snapshot of all non-resident accounts containing a balance exceeding £100,000 at dates in 1990, 1995 and 1999,” Mr McGinn said.
The court heard that two of the accounts which were allegedly altered were in the name of Mr FitzPatrick's brother-in-law, John Peter O'Toole.
Mr McGinn said while Mr O'Toole lived outside the jurisdiction, an account in his name was being used by someone living in Ireland.
“There will be evidence that Mr FitzPatrick made it known to a member of the Anglo team that he would prefer if details of his brother-in-law's accounts were not forwarded to Revenue,” he said.
Despite the accounts having a balance of more than £100,000 in March 1995 details were not forwarded to Revenue.
The court also heard that Ms Aoife Maguire, a member of staff at Anglo, approached members of the bank's IT team during the Revenue audit in 2003.
Mr McGinn said she requested that certain accounts be deleted from the bank's system.
“The IT department were uncomfortable with this instruction and rather than delete the accounts in question they archived them,” he told the jury.
When the archived accounts were recovered it transpired that some details pertaining to the accounts had been altered.
“This was part of the process to remove the connection to Sean FitzPatrick; an attempt to create distance between these accounts and Sean FitzPatrick,” he said.
Mr McGinn said the actions also demonstrated a desire to conceal information from the Revenue.
“Tiarnan O'Mahoney was part of an agreement to make a deliberate, concerted effort to alter records and to defraud Revenue,” he said.
The court heard from its first two witnesses this afternoon, a former Revenue Principal Officer and a trust and pensions advisor.
The trial, in front of Judge Martin Nolan and a jury of seven women and five men, is scheduled to take between four to six weeks.