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Here's what the judge in the Anglo trial had to say about the Financial Regulator

Hint: It wasn’t good.

Willie McAteer leaving the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court this afternoon.
Willie McAteer leaving the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court this afternoon.
Image: Sam Boal

IN DECIDING THAT Pat Whelan and Willie McAteer should not receive a custodial sentence, Judge Martin Nolan made a concise 20 minute judgement, much of it focusing on what he saw as failings by the Financial Regulator.

“By not taking action on Anglo they gave a green light to providing shares to lending for the purpose of share purchase,” he said amid numerous references.

Here are some more of the withering things he had to say:

It seems to me incredible that the regulator did not take advice from other state agencies.
I find it incredible that red lights didn’t go off in the office.
It seems to me that (Con) Horan and (Pat) Neary were more eager to solve the problem (Sean Quinn’s stake) than deal with legalities of law…….they felt their primary role was to ensure safety of the bank.
I am totally surprised that the regulator did not give some warning to Anglo Irish Bank.

Former CEO of the financial regulator Pat Neary and prudential director Con Horan both gave evidence at the trial.

The judge said that, “Mr Horan was candid and did his best” during the course of this evidence but that Neary “seems to have limited recall” and “difficulty in recalling several events”.

Adding that it seemed “the situation in Anglo both frightened and disturbed Mr Horan”.

Neary told the court last month that when he met Sean Quinn in January 2008 he “didn’t ask him straight-up” about his holdings in Anglo Irish Bank despite knowing about concerns since the previous autumn. He didn’t do so because he “didn’t think it was appropriate”.

Anglo Court Cases Patrick Neary arriving to give evidence last month. Source: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

Legal advice

On the issue of the legal advice the men may or may not have been given by Matheson Ormsby Prentice, the judge said that it was not necessary for him to make up his mind on what advice witness and solicitor Robert Heron thought he gave.

Rather, “what’s important is what Whelan and McAteer thought”, noting however that, “I cannot be certain the Whelan or McAteeer knew there were in breach of S60, but they were nonetheless in breach”.

Ignorance of the law is not a defence when charged with a crime but it can be considered in mitigation when deciding on a sentence.

Referencing the regulator, Judge Nolan said that it would be ‘unjust’ to impose prison sentences on the Anglo pair because a State agency “led them into error and illegality”.

The judge also spoke about former CEO David Drumm during the judgement, saying:

“I’ve also come to the conclusion that David Drumm was the instigator and author of the scheme.”

Read: No jail time for convicted Anglo pair, judge says prison sentences would be ‘incredibly unjust’ >

Read: Ireland sees first bankers convicted of giving illegal loans >

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About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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