Milestone verdict on white-collar crime

THE imprisonment of three former officials of Anglo Irish Bank for conspiring to hide from the Revenue Commissioners accounts connected to the bank’s then chief executive, Seán FitzPatrick, represents a milestone verdict in Ireland’s long-running banking crisis.

Milestone verdict on white-collar crime

The outcome is significant at several levels. They are the first Irish bankers to go to jail. The sentences are a first step towards dispelling well-founded public perception that white-collar criminals are untouchable under Ireland’s two-tier legal system. Not only has justice been done, it has finally been seen to be done.

The trio had, according to Judge Pat McCartan, acted out of misplaced loyalty to Mr FitzPatrick, whose name was inextricably linked to the case. As a result, the company’s then most senior officer, its secretary, and an assistant manager have respectively received three years, two years and 18 months in jail, their careers and reputations in tatters.

This case represents the tip of Ireland’s white-collar crime iceberg and that’s what makes it so important. The judge described Anglo Irish Bank as having a very dishonest approach to its Revenue responsibilities. When its lie that it had no Dirt responsibilities was exposed, it secretly put together a team made up of the three who are now behind bars. Judge McCartan deserves to be applauded for his forthright approach to justice. Let us hope it leads to a sea change.

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