Former Anglo compliance chief O' Neill hired despite having no experience

The former head of compliance with Anglo Irish Bank has been granted immunity from prosecution by the DPP, a court has heard.

The trial of former Anglo chairman Sean FitzPatrick and two other ex-directors William McAteer and Pat Whelan, has heard evidence from Fiachre O’Neill who was appointed group head of compliance at the bank in 2007.

At the start of his evidence, Mr O’Neill confirmed he made statements to the gardaí after being granted immunity from prosecution by the DPP.

Mr O’Neill told Paul O’Higgins, prosecuting, he had no experience with compliance or regulatory matters and he raised this concern with Mr McAteer, former chief financial officer Matt Moran, and then Anglo CEO David Drumm.

He said that their reaction was that he had the right skill set for the job and would be supported by experienced members of the compliance teams.

The court heard in 2008, Anglo and the financial regulator were concerned about businessman Sean Quinn controlling 29.4% of the bank through investment instruments called Contracts for Difference. They believed this stake was destabilising the bank’s share price and were anxious to dilute Mr Quinn’s control.

Mr O’Neill helped draw up an agreement between Mr Quinn and Anglo to unwind Mr Quinn’s control by disposing of CFDs in the market. He said he was told this deal had the approval of the regulator but he was instructed by Mr Moran to remove any reference to this approval from the text of the agreement.

Mr Moran also previously said that he was present during a conference call with the financial regulator when Anglo planned to have the Maple Ten buy the rest of the Quinn shares in July.

He said when Con Horan from regulator’s office was asked if they approved of the transaction, he replied that they “have no objection.”

Mr O’Neill said he understood this comment to mean the regulator “was fully supportive of the transaction.

Morgan Stanley employee Joel Carter told the court via a video link from a London courtroom that the Maple plan appeared to be a “neat solution” to the Quinn problem.

The court heard that Anglo hired Morgan Stanley, to deal with the Quinn issue.

The trial continues.

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