BANKRUPTCY, it turns out, is a rather polite business. Seán FitzPatrick wasn’t required to appear in court in person, turn out his pockets and set the moths free for all to see.
He didn’t have to take the shirt off his back, wrap it in humility and send it in to the judge in a gesture of solidarity with the commonly broke public.
His lawyers didn’t have to read from a tear-soaked mea culpa statement expressing shame and sorrow at the misadventures that led to this mournful moment.
And no suggestion was made that he flagellate himself with his own golf clubs on the steps of the Four Courts before melting them down and making a pair of shackles to clamp around his ankles so that he may shuffle around penitently for the next 12 years.
Heck, nobody even mentioned the money. There wasn’t a word of the €150m in debts the former Anglo Irish Bank boss ran up while running amok in an investment frenzy.
No one was so rude as to speak of the shortfall of €80m thought likely to be left behind when his vastly deflated assets are sold off and the proceeds divvied out among his hovering creditors.
Seánie’s five million Anglo Irish shares — now worth not even five cent — didn’t raise their impertinent heads, and no one uttered an insolent syllable about the €22 billion it has already cost the taxpayer to bail out his failed bank.
Instead there was gentlemanly discussion of forensic accounting, settlement schemes, asset realisation and that bizarrely jolly sounding process, bankruptcy adjudication.
Mr FitzPatrick, we heard, (they don’t call him Seánie in the hallowed halls of the High Court) had not gone up the walls, off the rails and admitted defeat while curled up behind the couch in a whimpering foetal position.
Instead he had pondered the view taken by his chief creditors, Anglo Irish, who let it be known they would not support any of his proposals — a civilised way of saying they would be satisfied with nothing less than his backside in a bacon slicer — and he had “considered that he should bow to the inevitable”.
The two sides, we heard tantalisingly, had differing opinions on the likely outcome of the settlement scheme Seánie and his advisers had dreamed up as an alternative to bankruptcy proceedings.
But when this brief hint of tension arose between barristers for Seánie and Anglo Irish, Judge Brian McGovern was swift to nip it in the bud, telling them his court was not to be used as a forum to ventilate their differences in public.
Then, after six concise minutes, Judge McGovern made his decision, in lovely olde legal language, “adjudicating Mr FitzPatrick a bankrupt”. It was, in a peculiar way, an almost pleasant affair.
Given the more robust exchanges he must be engaged in these days, Seánie will be sorry he missed it.
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