Sean Fitzpatrick had a €22m pension fund from Anglo Irish Bank, court hears

Sean Fitzpatrick had a €22m pension fund from Anglo Irish Bank, court hears
Catriona and Sean Fitzpatrick at an earlier court siting

- By Ann O'Loughlin

Former Anglo Irish Bank chairman, Sean FitzPatrick, had a €22m pension fund from Anglo Irish Bank when he retired as CEO in 2005, he told the High Court.

He and his wife Catriona took €5m of that out in cash and used it to help fund investments, he said.

The court is deciding whether Mrs FitzPatrick has a €6m beneficial interest in 18 assets despite her husband having being declared a bankrupt in 2010 and from which he has since exited.

Mr Fitzpatrick, who the court heard was cleared in a criminal trial of failing to disclose loans he had with the now collapsed Anglo, began giving evidence on Friday in support of his wife's case against Chris Lehane the official assignee (OA) in bankruptcy, claiming she has that €6m interest.

Mr Lehane has has brought a separate related case against Mrs FitzPatrick and the couple's three adult children David, Jonathan and Sara.

Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC) which took over Anglo, has brought separate related proceedings against Mrs Fitzpatrick, in which it denies she is entitled to claim monies loaned to fund asset investments or that the loans were given on the basis there would be no liability to her.

Mr Fitzpatrick was CEO of Anglo until his official retirement in 2005 and after which he remained on as non-executive chairman until 2009.

In 2004, he had a €22m lump sum in pension entitlements from which he was allowed to take €5m in cash which they used to help in their investments which "accelerated" from that point on, he said.

The balance in the pension fund was transferred to a limited company which was to be their employer but he said "we got bad advice and it didn't quite work out".

He said because the pension money was in gilts and similar investments, it took "a pretty dramatic dive in late 2007".

Before he retired as CEO however he had a "very significant shareholding" in Anglo itself provided through bonuses to executives, dividends and purchases by himself.

He could not say how much those shares were worth in 2003 but he knew that at a later stage it was worth more than €100m

In 2003, the couple, who had the shares in their joint names, sold half them and got around €23m after tax.

Asked by the FitzPartrick counsel, Jacqueline O'Brien,to summarise what his assets were just before he retired as CEO, he said there were the shares, the family home in Greystones, Wicklow, and a number of investments.

"I am afraid to say a figure because it could be way out, but we were very very comfortable".

Between 2003 and 2009, he and his wife signed a number of loan facility letters whereby their loans eventually grew to some €120m. Each facility letter superseded the previous facility letters.

These mostly were first examined by a junior credit committee in Anglo and then by a senior credit committee which had final approval. He said he was never on any credit committee.

The facility letters were initially provided on the strength of their shareholding in the bank and the purpose was to renew existing facilities and provide additional working capital.

However, some of the later letters provided a number of items, including property and other investments, as additional security for the renewed loan facilities.

These included a property in Marcus Avenue, Long Island, New York, which was held in both his and his wife's names. There were also first legal charges over an apartment in Smithfield, Dublin, and an apartment in Station Road, Killiney, Dublin, which was going to be owned eventually by their son Jonathan but "that never happened", he said.

Later securities included the interests the couple has in investment portfolios with stockbrokers, Bloxham, Davy, NCB, Morgan Stanley, Merrion and the Quinlan fund.

Other securities, held by their children, included in relation to first legal charges over four flats in London and another in Bray, Co Wicklow, Mr FitzPatrick said.

By 2007 there were 29 items of additional security, none which were part of the disputed 18 assets before the court, he said.

He believed the rough value of those additional securities was some €40m but said that was an understated valuation because they also included a Nigerian oil field which was only valued at €15m for the purpose of security but was, he said, actually valued at some €38m.

The case resumes on Tuesday.

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