A witness in the trial of three former Anglo Irish Bank directors accused of trying to prop up the bank’s share price during the financial turmoil of 2008 has said there was nothing underhand about the preparation of the Maple Ten loan application documents.
The documents state the 10 lenders had approached the bank with a view to buying shares because they saw an opportunity in the volatile market of the “ongoing credit crunch”.
A number of the lenders have testified that the bank approached them and asked them to buy a stake.
Sean FitzPatrick, 65, Willie McAteer, 63, and Pat Whelan, 51, are alleged to have taken part in a plan to lend money to the Quinn family and the so-called Maple Ten group of investors so they could buy shares in the bank and guarantee the stability of the share price.
The three men have been charged at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court with 16 counts of providing unlawful financial assistance to 16 individuals in July 2008 to buy shares in the bank.
Mr Whelan has also been charged with being privy to the fraudulent alteration of loan facility letters to seven individuals in October 2008.
Mr FitzPatrick of Greystones, Co Wicklow; Mr McAteer of Rathgar, Dublin; and Mr Whelan of Malahide, Dublin, have pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Elma Kinane, who was a manager in the lending division of Anglo and drafted the 10 loan applications, said there was nothing underhand in the way she prepared a memorandum for the applications.
Ms Kinane said she had assumed the investors had approached the bank but that Pat Whelan had given her team no background on the deal.
Counsel for Mr Whelan, Lorcan Staines asked Ms Kinane: “If there was someone in this room who would say there was something underhand in the way you prepared these memos, what would you say?”
“They would be wrong about that,” Ms Kinane replied.
One of these Maple Ten lenders, developer John McCabe, said Mr Whelan rang him in July 2008. He met Mr Whelan and the banker asked if he would buy 1% of shares in bank.
“The bank were very good to me over the years and to my business, and I was anxious to help. I wanted to co-operate with the bank who I intended continuing to do business with,” he said.
Asked if he had experience in share dealing, Mr McCabe, of Rath Cross, Ashbourne, Co Meath, said: “Nearly none. It’s not something I was into or wanted to get into.”
Asked by Brendan Grehan SC, defending Mr Whelan, for his opinion of the banker, Mr McCabe said: “He was 100% as far as I was concerned.”
Brian Gillespie, who held the position of head of compliance Ireland with the bank in 2008, said that he was working over the weekend of July 12, 2008 and was in the room during a conference phone call between Morgan Stanley officials and Con Horan, prudential director with the Financial Regulator.
Asked to describe Mr Horan’s tone during this call, Mr Gillespie said: “He was very, very, very positive about the transaction.”
Mr Gillespie said he knew “the Maple Project” was a plan to unwind the large CFD share holding built up in the bank. He said he understood the transaction had the agreement of the bank’s board and the Financial Regulator.