Auditors had no history of issues with loans to Anglo directors, Sean FitzPatrick trial told

A former auditor of Anglo Irish Bank has told the trial of Sean FitzPatrick that auditors had no history of issues with loans to the bank's directors.

Mr FitzPatrick (aged 68), the bank's former chairman, is accused of misleading auditors about multi-million euro loans to him and his family from 2002 to 2007.

He has denied all charges.

On day 84 of the trial, Vincent Bergin, who is a partner with audit firm EY (previously Ernst & Young), told the jury that he led the audit of Anglo for the years 2005 to 2008.

He told Dominic McGinn SC, prosecuting, that in respect of Anglo the auditors assessed the risk in relation to directors' loans as being low.

He said this was a qualitative assessment rather than a financial one and was based on a number of factors. These included the routine appearance of the transactions and the fact that “we encountered no issues with them in the past”.

He said the aggregate balance of the loans, in so far as the auditors were aware, would not have had an impact on the balance sheet.

He said that a document called the letter of representation was “hugely important to us as auditors”.

Mr Bergin said that its primary purpose was to ensure that the understanding of the directors who were responsible for preparing the bank's financial statements or accounts and the understanding of auditors was the same.

He said if directors from a company did not sign the letter of representation the auditors would not issue the audit opinion.

Mr FitzPatrick of Whitshed Road, Greystones, Co Wicklow has pleaded not guilty to 27 offences under the 1990 Companies Act.

These include 22 charges of making a misleading, false or deceptive statement to auditors and five charges of furnishing false information in the years 2002 to 2007.

The trial continues before Judge John Aylmer and a jury.

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