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The aggravating and mitigating factors: How the judge in the Drumm case arrived at six years

Judge Karen O’Connor noted that the most significant form of mitigation would have been a result of a guilty plea but that was not available in this case.

File Photo
File Photo
Image: Sam Boal via RollingNews.ie

FORMER ANGLO IRISH bank CEO David Drumm has been jailed for six years for his role in a in a €7.2 billion conspiracy to defraud the public about the health of Anglo Irish Bank in 2008.

The former CEO was found guilty on a charge of conspiracy to defraud and a charge of false accounting earlier this month.

Delivering the sentence this afternoon, Judge Karen O’Connor said that while there was no dispute that the months leading up to September 2008 were “challenging and difficult”, Drumm’s motivation for what he did was “irrelevant and no excuse”.

She said, “Drumm along with others put together a dishonest scheme”.

“The intention was to create the false and misleading impression that Anglo Irish Bank was stronger or in a healthier position than it actually was as a result of 7.2 billion euro in corporate deposits.

From the evidence it is clear he [Drumm] was the driving force in Anglo Irish Bank and the person behind the funding initiatives being considered by the bank.  He authorised the transactions, was at the helm of the bank, and clearly extremely “hands-on” in his position in the bank.

However, Judge Karen O’Connor noted that his offending did not cause Anglo Irish Bank to collapse and also noted that Drumm was not being sentenced for the financial crisis or the recession.

This court is not sentencing Mr Drumm for causing the financial crisis. Nor is this court sentencing Mr Drumm for the recession which occurred.

Describing how she came to the sentence of six years, Judge O’Connor listed both aggravating and mitigating factors.

The aggravating factors :

  • The nature of the offending is aggravating in circumstances where this was a dishonest and fraudulent scheme involving a conspiracy to the tune of 7.2 billion euro.
  • Mr Drumm was the Chief Executive Officer of the bank, he held a position of trust, when he authorised, directed and was actively involved in this dishonest and fraudulent scheme. He was also actively involved in the furnishing of the information into the market.
  • This offending was premeditated and planned, and in fact the evidence was that significant planning went into this fraud.

The mitigating factors :

  • Mr Drumm is a person of previous good character, he has no previous convictions. He has a supportive family.
  • He has lost his reputation which will encroach on any future employment opportunity. This is difficult for him on a personal level in circumstances where he was respected within the banking industry.
  • He has been the subject of much opprobrium which no doubt has been difficult for Mr Drumm and his family on a human level.

Drumm had acknowledged his role was a “huge error of judgement” but had denied any wrongdoing.

Judge O’Connor noted that “the most significant form of mitigation in a case of this nature would be as a result of a guilty plea”.

The mitigation which would have been available had guilty pleas been entered would have been considerable and that mitigation is not available.

“While certain matters were admitted to by Mr Drumm, he did not accept that the transactions were fraudulent or dishonest or that there was any dishonesty in their reporting.”

The maximum prison sentence for conspiracy to defraud is unlimited, while the maximum jail term for false accounting is ten years.

Handing down the six year sentence, Judge O’Connor gave Drumm credit for the five months he spent in a US prison while fighting his extradition to Ireland.

The 51-year-old was on bail throughout the 87-day trial. It was the third longest criminal trial in the history of the State.

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