Anglo trial jury finds Whelan and McAteer guilty of some charges

Former Anglo Irish Bank directors Pat Whelan and William McAteer have been convicted of providing illegal lending to the Maple Ten for a share support scheme.

The jury found former Director of Finance Mr McAteer and former head of Irish lending Mr Whelan were found guilty of providing illegal loans to 10 individuals to buy shares in the bank. The jury acquitted them of six charges each of lending money to the Quinn family.

The jury returned the final verdicts after nearly 17 hours of deliberation over five days. Their co-accused, former Anglo Chairman Sean FitzPatrick, was acquitted on all ten charges against him on Wednesday.

The men made no reaction as the verdicts were read out. All guilty verdicts were unanimous.

The trial lasted 48 days and was a result of the biggest fraud investigation in Irish history. It was the first time anyone was tried for the offence and the first time an enlarged jury of 15 heard was used.

Former Anglo chairman Sean FitzPatrick and ex-directors William McAteer and Pat Whelan, were charged at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court with breaching Section 60 of the Companies Act 1963 by lending money to investors to buy shares in Anglo.

Mr Whelan (aged 52) of Malahide, Dublin and Mr McAteer (aged 63) of Rathgar, Dublin were accused of 16 counts of providing unlawful financial assistance to 16 individuals in July 2008 to buy shares in the bank. The 16 individuals are six members of the Quinn family and the Maple Ten group of investors.

Mr FitzPatrick (aged 65) of Greystones, Co Wicklow, was charged with 10 counts of loaning money to the Maple Ten.

All three denied the charges. Last week the jury were ordered to acquit Mr Whelan and Mr FitzPatrick of a series of related counts because of lack of evidence.

The Maple Ten deal was designed to unwind the 29.4% control of the bank which businessman Sean Quinn had built up through investment tools known as Contracts for Difference (CFDs).

The 10 investors were loaned a total of €450m by Anglo to buy around 10% of the shares which Mr Quinn controlled. Mr Quinn’s wife and five children were also loaned €169m to buy nearly 15% of the stock.

The ex-bankers face a maximum of five years in jail for each offence.

Judge Martin Nolan thanked the seven women and five men on the jury for their work and exempted them for further jury service for 10 years.

Whelan and McAteer have been remanded on continuing bail pending a sentencing hearing on April 28.

The landmark case of a boom-to-bust bank was the first time anyone has been prosecuted under section 60 of the Companies Act in Ireland.

The state’s case against the bankers was that the loans were extraordinary business and in contravention of that law.

The verdict draws to a close just one aspect of complex fraud investigations focusing on the turbulent months before Anglo was nationalised in January 2009 at a cost to Irish citizens of about €30bn.

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