FitzPatrick’s struggles with the criminal justice system are far from over

The acquittal of bankrupt former banker Seán FitzPatrick has not ended his struggles with the criminal justice system.

FitzPatrick’s struggles with the criminal justice system are far from over

On Wednesday, he was cleared of charges relating to the illegal lending of €450m to a group of investors nicknamed the Maple Ten.

Last week, Judge Martin Nolan directed that the other charges he was facing for lending money to the Quinn family should be dismissed by the jury.

At the outset of the trial, the prosecution accepted the former chairman was not instrumental in the transactions to the Maple Ten and the Quinn family. The court was told that, of the three accused, Mr FitzPatrick had no direct involvement.

The case presented to the jury rested on the assumption that, as chairman of the bank, who was aware of the difficulties it faced, Mr FitzPatrick must have been involved in the decision-making and did nothing to stop the lending. The jury disagreed.

However, that was only one strand of the complex probe the Garda fraud squad and the Officer of the Director of Corporate Enforcement has conducted into the collapse of Anglo Irish Bank.

In January 2013, Mr FitzPatrick was charged with 12 counts of misleading the bank’s auditors between 2002 and 2007.

Each of these charges related to loans Mr FitzPatrick drew down from Irish Nationwide Building Society before the company signed its annual financial statements.

The charges levelled at him allege that the loans were short-term arrangements to hide borrowings the chairman had drawn down from Anglo.

The value of the loans ranged from €5m in 2002 to €139m in 2007.

These charges have been grounded in section 197 of the Companies Act, which prohibits willfully misleading auditors.

The punishment for people convicted of this offence is up to five years in prison or a fine of up to €12,697 for each offence.

No date has been set for this trial. It had been expected to take place this autumn.

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