The court was told they plotted to take over clients, business and staff of International Financial Services (IFS), which the bank had put up for sale as part of its retrenchment and capitalisation.
Michael McDowell, senior counsel for the bank, told Mr Justice Barry White that following an internal investigation, the bank had been shocked and astounded at the conduct of “the six” top managers.
They are: Pat Diamond, Merlin, Elton Park, Sandycove, Dublin; Aidan Foley, formerly Grawn, Kilmacthomas, Wexford; Gerry McEvoy, formerly Shandon Park, Phibsboro, Dublin; Derek O’Reilly, Fernleigh Drive, Castleknock, Dublin, Andrew O’Shea, formerly Ashbrook House, Julianstown, Co Meath, and Joe Walsh, formerly Grosvenor Terrace, Monkstown, Co Dublin.
The IFS had operations across Europe and the US but due to the financial crisis has been forced to sell the non-core IFS business.
Ronan O’Neill, AIB’s head of corporate and commercial banking, told the court the defendants pursued a strategy of targeting numerous key staff and clients of AIB IFS for the purposes of establishing an enterprise which would directly compete with IFS.
He also said the defendants had abstracted information from the bank for the purpose of establishing a competing business for their own benefit and for the benefit of the other corporate defendants, Centralis, a Luxembourg-based financial services company.
They had, he said, conspired to appropriate IFS business by downloading trade secrets, and confidential information had already caused very serious loss, contributing directly to a reduction from €55 million to €33m in the price that was achieved for the sale of AIB IFS.
Mr McDowell said the internal inquiry revealed their actions had led to significant loss and damage to AIB. From an original offer of €55m from a preferred bidder, the bank had to accept €33m, a loss of €22m.