From top: Kevin O Connell from the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement; RTÉ Prime Time‘s David McCullagh and Dearbhail McDonald last night
“We [Irish Independent] actually knew back in 2015 that this particular prosecution of Sean Fitzpatrick was in serious trouble and serious jeopardy but we couldn’t report it at that time.
Back in 2015, legal argument came in the absence of a jury about key aspects of the trial and one of those included the manner in which statements were taken from two key witnesses Vincent Bergin and Kieran Kelly who were audit partners in Ernst & Young which we now know as EY.
But I suppose what I recall as the most staggering event possibly in 2015 was the day we were in court and the day that it emerged that the lead investigator Kevin O’Connell who was a solicitor, who wasn’t experie-, he was a solicitor for the ODCE and in charge of this investigation but he wasn’t overly experienced in dealing with serious indictable offences, he didn’t have much experience in the taking of witness statements.
And he admitted, it emerged, he went home, after six days of cross examanation in the Circuit Court, that he had shredded documents in what he described as a moment of panic when he went back to his office. I think it was the May bank holiday weekend.
And that was absolutely staggering at that point in time. We couldn’t report it because Mr O’Connell, whom the ODCE today revealed had been hospitalised in the immediate aftermath of that revelation for a period of time.
The case ended there and it is only now that the case has concluded, by way of direction of acquittal by the trial judge that we are able to report those facts.”
Dearbhail McDonald, of the Irish Independent on RTÉ’s Prime Time last night.
Gardaí are trained in taking witness statements. O’Connell, who was centrally involved, had never taken a witness statement before. The whole process, [Brendan[ Condon [Sean Fitzpatrick’s barrister] said, was “lawyer-led”. It was “statement by committee”, with the statements being constructed as if for civil proceedings. But this was not the commercial court. It was a criminal prosecution and it should have been investigated in the normal way.
Unknown to Condon, when O’Connell was in the witness box answering questions about these matters, the ODCE solicitor had a particular worry on his mind.
What documents should and should not be disclosed to the defence by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) was one of the matters Condon was complaining about in his critique of how his client was being treated. O’Connell was worried about the decision not to disclose a particular document to the defence. According to Condon’s later view, that document would have revealed that the DPP was being kept informed as to how O’Connell was going about his work. The decision not to disclose the document, an email, Condon was to say in court in 2016, caused O’Connell to fear that he was going to be “hung out to dry” by the DPP.
O’Connell feared that the DPP was “deliberately suppressing the email”, Condon said, and this caused O’Connell to “panic”.
Mr Patrick Honohan [Governor of the Central Bank] said former Finance Minister Brian Lenihan had told him that he (Lenihan) argued for Anglo and Irish Nationwide to be nationalised on September 29, 2008.
The then minister also said he expressed the opinion that junior bondholders should have been excluded from the guarantee.
According to Mr Honohan, Mr Lenihan was overruled on both fronts.
When asked who had rejected the former Finance Minister’s view, he said the Taoiseach and Attorney General were the other political figures present on the night.
The role of the Attorney General (at the time it was barrister Paul Gallagher) is to advise the Cabinet. So it is reasonable to assume that Mr Lenihan was “overruled” by Mr Cowen.
Brian Cowen knew from at least March 2008 of [Sean] Quinn’s giant gamble on Anglo [he controlled 28 per cent of the bank] after Sean FitzPatrick rang him on his mobile. In April 2008 he attended a dinner [at Heritage House] where he was introduced to Anglo’s board and executives by his college friend Fintan Drury, then an Anglo director. On Monday, July 28, 14 days after the Maple transaction, Cowen played golf and had dinner with Fitzpatrick, spending all day with him….
Tom Lyons and Brian Carey, in their book The Fitzpatrick Tapes, wrote that Brian Cowen met with Fintan Drury, who founded and sold Drury Communications which acted as PR advisor to Anglo, at least ten times between September 2004 and May 2008.
In contrast, Cowen met officials from the Financial Regulator only eight times during his term in office.
In relation to the dinner at Heritage House, Lyons and Carey wrote:
There was, according to FitzPatrick no discussion of the ghost at the banquet, Sean Quinn, or of FitzPatrick’s urgent phone call to Cowen only six weeks before. To an outsider it seems extraordinary that the issue would not have surfaced at the Heritage House dinner or that FitzPatrick did not draw Cowen aside to update him.
‘Sorry. I am not saying that it was right or wrong. I just didn’t do those things. I never saw politicians as important in that way. Clearly they were important but I never saw them as to be used or anything like that. I never saw…It never struck me once in my whole life that Fintan [Drury] would be very useful because he was on our board and because he knew Cowen so well. It never struck me once. In my life, I never asked him to do anything with the minister for finance when he was on the board of the bank ever. Never even gone near it.’
Even in exceptional circumstances surrounding the events of March 2008, there was no attempt to seek government support? ‘No’.”
The book also states that Drury resigned a day after the board of Anglo met at the five-star Fota Island hotel and golf resort in which Morgan Stanley gave a confidential presentation outlining Sean Quinn’s CFD position and Anglo had given the problem the code name ‘Maple’. The meeting saw David Drumm dial into the meeting from Boston. This was the last meeting before the Maple Ten transaction.
Mr Drury didn’t attend the Fota meeting and never publicly discussed the reasons for his resignation, according to Lyons and Carey.
[Business journalist] Simon Carswell: “Can I just put it in another way? If Sean Quinn then, as you put it, through 2008 as the share price was falling and he was deeply, in a heavily loss-making position in the margin calls why didn’t he say ‘no I don’t want your loans then, Anglo Irish Bank?’”
Patricia Gilheaney [Quinn family friend]: “Because he was told to put on the green jersey.” And that came from political pressure aswell and that will come out, Simon. And I think you know that.”
Carswell: “Well, perhaps you can explain that because there’s a reference in the Mail on Sunday at the weekend in an interview he gave where he had a conversation with Brian Cowen. I mean do you know anything about that?”
Gilheany: “I believe that Brian Cowen rang him in the days after, when Quinn Insurance went into administration.”
Former Anglo Irish Banks directors arriving at the Central Criminal Court this morning for sentencing. In April, Patrick Whelan, top, and Willie McAteer, above, were found guilty of illegally loaning €450million to the so-called Maple Ten investors for the purchase of Anglo Irish Bank shares
A former Anglo Irish Bank clerk has been given a suspend sentence for defrauding his employer of €200,000 while the bank was being nationalised.
[Gordon] O’Brien had set the money aside “as a war chest” because he was going to lose his job in the wind-up of the bank.
His counsel said his wife was also going to lose her job with another bank and his son had just been diagnosed with autism and faced having his education grant cut.
At Dublin Circuit Criminal Court today Judge Patricia Ryan sentenced O’Brien to four years in prison, but suspended it full for three years.
The Limerick man committed the fraud by transferring clients’ money into several bank accounts he controlled. He would then take money from internal Anglo accounts and put it into the clients’ accounts to make them appear in order.