A jury has been sworn in for the trial of former Anglo Irish Bank chairman Seán FitzPatrick and former executives Pat Whelan and William McAteer.
The jury of eight men and seven women was sworn in over the course of two hours at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court yesterday. The trial is due to begin on Wednesday at 11am.
It is the first time a jury of 15 has been used, as provided for by an amendment last year to the 1976 Juries Act. The amendment allows for enlarged juries for lengthy trials.
Under the amended law, 15 jurors can now be empanelled. Only 12 jurors will actually deliberate the case. The extra three will act as substitutes should a juror be unable to continue. It will only be decided at the end of the evidence which jurors will actually deliberate on a verdict.
Around 350 people answered their jury summons. The Court Service had sent out 1,500 summons.
Judge Martin Nolan told the panel that any past or present bank employees should not serve on the jury. He also said anyone who has expressed “strong public views” on Anglo Irish Bank or anyone who owns shares in any bank are prohibited from serving.
Mr FitzPatrick, aged 64, of Whitshed Rd, Greystones, Co Wicklow; Mr McAteer, aged 62, of Auburn Villas, Rathgar, Dublin; and Mr Whelan, aged 50, of Coast Rd, Malahide, Dublin, have pleaded not guilty to 16 charges each of unlawfully providing financial assistance to individuals for the purpose of buying shares in Anglo Irish Bank in 2008.
Each charge relates to a specific person who allegedly received financial assistance between July 10 and July 17, 2008.
The 16 people named in the charges are Patricia Quinn; Seán Quinn Jr; Collete Marie Quinn; Aoife Quinn; Brenda Quinn; Ciara Quinn; Paddy McKillen; Séamus Ross; Brian O’Farrell; John McCabe; Gerard Maguire; Patrick Kearney; Gerard Conlon; Gerard Gannon; Seán Reilly; and Joseph O’Reilly.
The charges relating to Patricia Quinn are alleged to have occurred between July 10 and July 30, 2008.
Mr Whelan has pleaded not guilty to seven additional charges of being privy to fraudulently altered loan facility letters sent to seven of the borrowers relating to the purchase of shares of Anglo. These alleged offences occurred in Oct 2008.
A list of expected witnesses was read out to the panel. This included Seán Quinn Sr and other members of the Quinn family, as well as the 10 other borrowers mentioned in the charges. Other expected witnesses include former Anglo employees, former and current Central Bank employees, and 42 gardaí.
Judge Nolan told the jurors the trial would not take longer than four months and said that they must be available until May 31. Members of a jury continue to be paid by their employer.
The judge told the panel it was unrealistic to expect them not to have heard of Anglo, but said anybody who had expressed strong views in public should not sit on the jury. He said this included views expressed on the internet, including Facebook.
When the jury was empanelled, Judge Nolan issued it a final warning saying jurors should not conduct their own investigations into the case or even read up on it. He said he would regard such activity as a breach of their oaths.
Around 150 jurors were called to take the oath. The judge excused 131 of these who said they would have issues serving on the jury. The defence teams objected to 17 jurors and the prosecution objected to two.
Those serving on the jury were required to state their occupation before talking the oath. Some of the professions mentioned were Revenue official, Dublin Bus driver, hedge fund employee, salesman, and employee with Wavin Pipes. Two jurors said they were unemployed.
At one stage, the prosecution interrupted the swearing-in process to raise a concern about a post on the website, Politics.ie. The jury panel heard that the post read: “I’ve been chosen to be on a jury. I hope I get some time in a nice hotel. We all partied.”
Judge Nolan reminded the jurors that such activity is forbidden.
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