News Column

Anglo Irish Bank chiefs face community service over illegal loan scheme

August 1, 2014

Henry McDonald,

Two bosses from the bank that almost bankrupted Ireland have been given 240 hours of community service for an illegal multimillion-euro loan scheme to rich investors.

Former Anglo Irish Bank chiefs Pat Whelan and William McAteer were told in Dublin's Circuit criminal court on Thursday that they had one year to complete the sentence.

The community service orders imposed by Judge Martin Nolam was in lieu of a two-year prison sentence.

The pair were found guilty earlier this year in the same court of illegally lending to the so-called Maple 10 a group of investors Anglo Irish Bank sought out as alternative investors to SeÁn Quinn, Ireland's one-time richest man who had bought millions of shares in the bank.

There was widespread outrage in the Irish Republic after Whelan and McAteer escaped a custodial sentence following a 47-day criminal trial.

While they were found guilty of the Maple 10 illegal loan scheme, their co-accused and ex-Anglo Irish Bank chairman Sean Fitzpatrick was found not guilty of all charges against him. Whelan and McAteer were also found not guilty of making unlawful loans to six members of Quinn's family.

Quinn's dealings with the Anglo Irish Bank and his use of loans to speculate on the international property market resulted in the former billionaire being declared bankrupt after the financial and property crash of 2008-2009.

Fitzpatrick meanwhile launched a legal challenge in the Dublin courts earlier this week to overturn a ruling that he is not entitled to legal costs relating to the 47-day trial.

Nearly 30bn (25bn) of taxpayers' money had to be pumped into the bank in 2008 to rescue it and the entire Irish banking sector from total collapse. The bank has since been nationalised and renamed the Irish Banking Resolution Corporation.

The multibillion-euro rescue of the debt-ridden bank came back into public focus last year when tape recordings emerged of Anglo Irish executives discussing the bailout they had sought from the Irish government.

One of the tapes first revealed by the Irish Independent contains audio recording of one Anglo Irish Bank executive, John Bowe, who is heard laughing and joking about the rescue with one of his colleagues, Peter Fitzgerald.

The two men are heard discussing how the government and the taxpayer agreed to pump billions into the bank. Bowe is asked by Fitzgerald how they can came up with an original figure of 7bn to rescue the bank from complete collapse.

On the tape Bowe is heard replying: "Just as Drummer (the then Anglo Irish CEO David Drumm) would say, 'picked it out of my arse'."

As Whelan and McAteer left the court on Thursday, Nolan told them: "Enjoy your community service."

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Source: Guardian Web

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