Former Anglo executives escape jail time

Two directors of the now-defunct Anglo Irish Bank have walked from court after a judge ruled they should serve community service for their role in an illegal loans-for-shares scam at the bank.

Pat Whelan, former head of lending, and Willie McAteer, former head of finance and risk, were found guilty before Easter after an 11-week trial over the so-called Project Maple plot to lend €450m to a secret circle of clients in July 2008.

The Maple 10 businessmen as they were known, mostly developers, were brought in to unravel a doomed €2.4bn gamble on the bank’s shares – 28% of its total stock – by former billionaire industrialist Sean Quinn.

Whelan, 52, and a father-of-two, of Malahide, Co Dublin, and McAteer, 63, and also a father-of-two, of Rathgar, Dublin, had been found not guilty of illegally lending money to five members of the Quinn family as part of the same deal.

Judge Martin Nolan, at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, said it would be unjust to send the men to jail as they had acted following advice from the financial regulator.

“It seems to me it would be most unjust to imprison these two gentlemen when it seems to me a state agency has led them in error and illegality,” he said.

The ex-bankers will be assessed by the probation service with a community service order to be imposed on July 31.

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