Describing Anglo Irish Bank as "very sick," a judge yesterday jailed three of its former officials for between 18 months and three years for conspiring to conceal or alter bank accounts being sought by Revenue.
Former chief operations officer Tiarnan O’Mahoney, former company secretary Bernard Daly and former assistant manager Aoife Maguire were found guilty by a jury at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on Thursday on all charges after nearly seven hours deliberations and a two-month trial.
O’Mahoney, who was second in command at the bank, received a three-year sentence while Daly, who held the more junior position, was sentenced to two years.
Maguire was the lowest ranking of the three and received 18 months.
The three accused appeared tearful throughout the sentencing hearing and as they were led away by prison guards to begin their sentences.
Judge McCartan said it was clear the accused engaged in a deliberate and ongoing fraud to stop the accounts of their employer, Anglo chairman Sean FitzPatrick, from being disclosed to Revenue.
The judge called Anglo a “very sick bank” which “took a very, very dishonest approach to Revenue”.
He said the accused’s actions were “done out of misplaced loyalty but were still dishonest and were against all good banking principles and practices”.
He said it was a very difficult case to sentence because the accused had impeccably good characters. He noted the character witnesses for Daly who testified about his charity work particularly with the deaf community.
He also took into account testimonies of Maguire’s devotion to her GAA club and a reference handed in on behalf of O’Mahoney by former Dublin football manager Tom Lyons.
Judge McCartan said the balance was between the personal positions of the accused and the public interest.
“Banking must be based on trust and honestly; it cannot work otherwise,” Judge McCartan said. “And the Revenue plays a crucial and central role in the society in which we live.” Referring to the motives for concealing the accounts, Judge McCartan asked: “Why should Mr FitzPatrick or anyone on his behalf want to hide accounts unless there was potential embarrassment to him?”
The judge praised the integrity of the IT staff in Anglo who refused to delete the accounts and decided to archive them instead, leading to their production in evidence during the trial. He also praised bank employee Zita Vance who refused when asked by O’Mahoney if she would delete an account.
The judge heard defence arguments for a non-custodial sentence, including the fact that Mr FitzPatrick was the “prime mover” and main beneficiary of the fraud and that none of the accused profited from it in any way.
Counsel for Daly, Sean Guerin SC, said he is now acting as a co-operating prosecution witness in a separate case against Anglo.
Representing O’Mahoney, Brendan Grehan SC, said that at the time of the offences his client was in line to succeed Mr FitzPatrick as CEO of the bank but lost out to David Drumm who came from the lending side of the bank.
Counsel said O’Mahoney came from the “more prudential” treasury side of Anglo and was “deemed not to fit in with the culture of the bank”.
Patrick Gageby SC, representing Maguire said that, unlike her co-accused, she was never an officer of the company and was far from it. He said she held the grade of assistant manager and that no one answered to her.
He said she left Anglo in 2005 to care for her sick mother and has been unemployed for the last number of years.
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