The trial of former Anglo Irish Bank chairman Seán FitzPatrick has begun at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, where he yesterday denied misleading the bank’s auditors about millions of euro in loans.
A specially enlarged jury panel of 15 has been sworn for the trial, which is expected to run for three months.
Mr FitzPatrick (68) of Whitshed Road, Greystones, Co Wicklow, is accused of failing to disclose to the bank’s auditor, Ernst and Young, the details of loans of up to €119 million which he received from Anglo between November 2002 and February 2008.
He 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 prosecution intends to call 75 witnesses, including Matt Moran and Tiarnan O’Mahoney, who worked at the now-defunct bank.
Alan Dukes, the former chairman of Anglo’s successor bank IBRC, will also be called.
In addition to the usual exclusions, potential jurors were told they must not serve if they were affected by the banking crisis or have expressed any views on it on social media or any other public forum.
They were also told they should not serve if they are a member of any protest group, including anti-austerity groups.
Banking sector employees and shareholders were also excluded.
One woman was excused from serving after telling the court she is “decidely not neutral when it comes to bankers”.
Another man indicated that he was willing to cancel an upcoming holiday to serve but he was objected to by the defence.
The defence challenged eight potential jurors in total while the prosecution challenged four.
Counsel are allowed to challenge up to eight jurors each without giving a reason. Another 72 were excused for various reasons before a final jury of eight women and seven men was sworn in.
Judge Aylmer told jurors they must not seek out information on the trial outside of the court.
“We’re all aware of the availability to everyone of the internet, newspapers, or social media,” he said.
He also asked the the jurors not to discuss the case with family or friends.
The case should finish by Christmas and may take less than the three-month estimate. The jury will next return on Monday, before being sent away for two weeks while legal arguments take place.
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