€7.2bn conspiracy trial in legal talks

The trial of four senior bankers accused of conspiring to mislead investors has gone into legal argument until Thursday.
€7.2bn conspiracy trial in legal talks

The four men, including former Irish Life and Permanent (ILP) CEO Denis Casey and Anglo Irish Bank’s former head of finance Willie McAteer, are accused of conspiring to mislead investors by using interbank loans to make Anglo appear €7.2bn more valuable than it was.

Mr McAteer, aged 65, of Greenrath, Tipperary Town, Co Tipperary, and Mr Casey, aged 56, of Raheny, Dublin, are on trial alongside Peter Fitzpatrick, aged 63, from Malahide, Dublin, who had been ILP’s former director of finance, and John Bowe, aged 52, of Glasnevin, Dublin, who had been Anglo’s head of capital markets.

They all pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to conspiring together and with others to mislead investors through financial transactions to make the bank seem more valuable that it was between March 1 and September 30, 2008.

On day nine of the trial, the State’s first witness, Matt Cullen, a former director of treasury at Anglo, finished his direct evidence and Diarmaid McGuinness SC, defending Mr Bowe, began cross-examining the witness.

Mr Cullen said he worked with Mr Bowe at Anglo and agreed that the accused was “hard working, dedicated, and conscientious”.

When counsel asked Mr Cullen to look at an exhibit, Úna Ní Raifeartaigh SC, prosecuting, told the court the State was objecting to the admissibility of certain evidence. Judge Martin Nolan asked the jury to rise so that the legal dispute could be dealt with in their absence.

He told the jurors they would be contacted by telephone. He later said the jury would be told to return on Thursday.

Before the jury rose, Mr Cullen testified that Anglo had had good relations with ILP. He said that, at the end of 2007, the bank was able to facilitate ILP when it were short of money.

He said Anglo lent ILP €400m and ILP did not provide any collateral. Asked if this was a case of Anglo “putting your trust in” ILP, Mr Cullen said: “There wouldn’t be anything strange in that.” He agreed with counsel that “it really is as simple as it sounds” and that a deal like that was agreed informally through telephone calls.

Mr McGuinness compared the transaction to the way a publican or a shopkeeper might borrow stock from a neighbouring shop if they ran short. Mr Cullen agreed that the financial transactions were a form of “good neighbourliness and building a relationship that could be of benefit”.

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