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DPP v Bowe, Fitzpatrick, McAteer & Casey (Irish Criminal Case)

Posted on 30/10/2016 · Posted in Criminal Cases, Expert Witness, Fraud

In the longest criminal trial in the history of the State of Ireland, three former banking executives were jailed last summer. Former Anglo Irish Bank (‘Anglo‘) executives John Bowe and Willie McAteer, and Denis Casey (former CEO of Irish Life and Permanent (‘IL&P‘)), were found guilty of agreeing to a scheme to mislead the public about the true health of Anglo in September 2008. The scheme involved setting up a €7.5 billion circular transaction scheme to bolster Anglo’s balance sheet in an attempt to show strong corporate deposits during the unprecedented 2008 global credit crunch “being experienced at the time“. Anglo lent funds to IL&P and then IL&P placed the deposits back with Anglo via a non-banking subsidiary in the run-up to Anglo’s financial year end on 30th September 2008. Anglo categorised them as customer deposits, which are often regarded as more secure than deposits from fellow banks and it was believed would show confidence in the bank.

Judge Nolan in the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court said that the scheme was “deceitful, dishonest and corrupt” and that it was a serious matter when two blue chip companies conspired together to manipulate public accounts. Individual depositors and investors relied on and made decisions based on the public accounts of companies and were entitled to rely on the honesty and integrity of its leaders. The actions of the accused were “reprehensible” and had potentially affected thousands of people. The fact that Casey may have entered into these transactions because he was encouraged to as part of the “green jersey agenda” (ie to help out fellow Irish institutions) was not relevant.

To know what you know and what you do not know, that is true knowledge.”

The Judge’s starting point for the length of sentence was 8 years. He took into account all the mitigating pleas put forward on behalf of the men – they had lost their jobs and been exposed to public ridicule. Their achievements, backgrounds and the contributions made to their communities and families were all noted. He was also aware that certain State authorities turned a blind eye to “optically driven balance sheet management” which he said was a euphemism for banks entering into transactions which have little or no commercial value. Following orders, however, was no defence. The law must be obeyed and the survival of Anglo was not everything.

Mr McAteer was sentenced to 3 1/2 years (he had authorised the transactions when he knew what he was doing was underhand, deceitful and corrupt and was a respected leader of huge experience), Mr Casey to two years nine months (he made a grave error of judgement when he should have known better and had behaved disgracefully in co-operating with Anglo) and Mr Bowe to two years (he was “a lesser functionary” and not a board member).

Mr Bowe and Mr McAteer and Mr Casey have all appealed against their convictions and sentences. A hearing date has been fixed for the week beginning 6th March 2017. Mr Justice George Birmingham, who oversees the progression of cases through the three-judge appeal court, said a week-long appeal hearing would be “the longest appeal” since the Court of Appeal was established in 2014. He said the Court of Appeal would hear the case no matter how long it took but “would hope it might be possible to deal with it more expeditiously than that”.

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