Sean FitzPatrick 'had no reason to hide full extent of loans from Anglo'

Former Anglo Irish Chairman Sean FitzPatrick told gardaí that he had no reason to hide the full extent of his loans from the bank, his trial has heard.

It is the prosecution's case that multi-million euro loans taken out by Mr FitzPatrick (aged 68) and his family were “artificially reduced” for a period of two weeks around the bank's financial end of year statement by short term loans from other sources, including Irish Nationwide Building Society (INBS).

On day 115 of the country's longest running criminal trial, prosecuting counsel told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court their case was complete.

Defence Counsel, Bernard Condon told the court then that the defence had some applications to make and these would take some time. The jury was asked to return on May 11.

Earlier, the court heard that after his arrest by investigating gardaí, Mr FitzPatrick told them that there was no financial benefit to him, his family or Anglo Irish Bank in the annual refinancing of some of his loans.

He said he never came up with the suggestion that the refinancing should be done. He said it was done by someone else and he just signed it off.

“I never went and spoke to anyone in INBS. I never came up with the suggestion that should be done. Every year someone in the accounts department did it and it was done, done, done and I just signed it,” he told gardaí.

He denied that he was seeking to conceal the extent of his loans from the bank's board, shareholders or auditors.

“This was not being done behind closed doors. It was not being done secretly.

“There was no secrecy about the loan process. No prohibition on anyone being told about it,” he told Detective Sergeant Brian Mahon, during interviews at Bray Garda Station.

He said around 40 staff in the bank knew. Asked if he was trying to conceal his loans from the auditors he said that the bank's loans figures were returned every quarter to the Central Bank.

Asked if the refinancing was “a deliberate attempt to mislead the auditors about the true extent of your loans” Mr FitzPatrick replied: “Why would I want to do that? Where was the benefit for me? Where was I making money?

“All of the loans up to 2008 were performing, approved by the credit committee, where was the benefit for me in refinancing?”

He told Sergeant Mahon that the media would have been at the back of his mind as he was concerned there would not be a misleading picture.

He said he didn't believe loans he had taken out as part of investment partnerships he was involved with had to be disclosed in Anglo's figures as he was only liable for a part of those loans.

He said the refinancing was done for the first four or five years to ensure “a misleading picture was not put out”.

“If there was no refinancing, the bank would have included the entire partnership loans and the question was which was more misleading?,” he told gardaí.

He said that it was suggested by the bank in 1995 that this was the route he should take to more accurately reflect the level of real borrowing by him. He said he didn't know who came up with the solution.

“There was no financial benefit to me, my family or the bank,” he added.

Asked about the temporary transfer of monies from his own deposit accounts he said he had no recollection of he or his wife giving instructions for that to happen.

Gardaí asked him how it could have happened without instruction he replied: “Exactly. How did it happen?”.

He said he didn't know if any other directors, non executive directors or Anglo senior management know about the full extent of your borrowings.

Mr FitzPatrick of Whitshed Road, Greystones, Co Wicklow has pleaded not guilty to 27 offences under the 1990 Companies Act.

These include 22 charges of making a misleading, false or deceptive statement to auditors and five charges of furnishing false information in the years 2002 to 2007.


 

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