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Anglo board usually met 8-10 times a year - but they met 33 times in 2008

The court at the Anglo trial heard how the share price of the bank dropped dramatically from more than €17 euro to less than 20 cent.

Sean Fitzpatrick arriving for court today
Sean Fitzpatrick arriving for court today
Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

THE BOARD OF Anglo Irish Bank met 33 times in one year as the directors faced a series of problems at the now-defunct bank.

The court at the trial of three former senior executives of the bank heard today that the board would usually have met between eight and ten times in one year, but met four or five times alone in the days following the collapse of Bear Sterns investment bank on 17 March 2008.

Counsel for the defence described the collapse of the US bank as the “St Patrick’s Day massacre”.

Natasha Mercer, who was the company secretary of Anglo in 2008 said that the board was made up of thirteen people: four executive directors who were involved with the day-to-day running of the bank – David Drumm, Willie McAteer, Pat Whelan and Declan Quilligan – and nine non-executive directors who would come to board meetings, including Sean FitzPatrick.

Mercer said that she had taken hand-written notes of board meetings and typed them up afterwards. She told the court that she does not have her hand-written notes but may be able to get them for when she gives evidence again.

The court also heard details about the collapse of the share price of the bank. Graphs using figures from the Irish Stock Exchange were put up on three large television screens around the court.

A witness from the Irish Stock Exchange confirmed that shares in the bank were trading at €10.72 on 2 January 2008 but had fallen down to just €0.17 by  31 December. Between 2007 and 2008, the share price had peaked at €17.53 at the start of June 2007.

Counsel for the prosecution Úna Ní Raifeartaigh said there was a “very clear decline” in the share price of Anglo Irish Bank throughout 2008.

The share price hovered around €8 and €10 euro for the first three months of the year before dropping to €6.95 on 17 March. It fell below five euro for the first time on 10 July when it dropped to €4.85. The price gradually increased over the following two months before falling again in September. It ended the year at just 17 cent.

Counsel for Seán Fitzpatrick Michael O’Higgins SC asked witness Aisling McArdle of the Irish Stock Exchange if the share price could be seen as a barometer of the health of an institution, and she agreed that it could.

He asked the witness if she knew anything about CFDs, but she said she didn’t.

O’Higgins said investor Warren Buffet had described CFDs as “weapons of mass destruction” in terms of how they can affect the price of shares in an institution.

It is the second day of the trial of Seán FitzPatrick of Greystones in Wicklow, Pat Whelan of Coast Road, Malahide in Dublin, and William McAteer of Auburn Villas in Rathmines in Dublin,  who have all pleaded not guilty to charges under section 60 of the Companies Act of counts of providing unlawful financial assistance to people – including the so-called Maple 10 – in 2008 to buy shares in the bank.

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