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Former Anglo Irish Bank CEO and chairman Seán FitzPatrick has died aged 73

The news was confirmed by a family spokesperson this afternoon.
Nov 9th 2021, 12:38 PM 81,728 0

Updated Nov 9th 2021, 2:15 PM

FORMER ANGLO IRISH Bank chairman Seán FitzPatrick has died aged 73.

FitzPatrick, who had previously served as CEO, resigned from his role in Anglo in 2008 following revelations about ‘warehoused’ loans, a scandal that caused the collapse of the bank’s share price and its eventual nationalisation the following year.

A spokesperson for the family has confirmed that the 73-year-old died yesterday after a short illness. 

FitzPatrick was appointed chief executive of what was then City of Dublin Bank – later to become Anglo – in 1986.

He built the small commercial bank over the following 30 years to become one of the biggest lending institutions in Ireland. The Celtic Tiger period was one of particular growth for the bank, which was a significant lender to property developers.

FitzPatrick’s name became well known around the time of the financial crash and in its aftermath, during which Anglo went bust, costing the Irish state about €29 billion. 

He had always rejected accusations that Anglo had been reckless in its lending practices. In an interview with RTÉ broadcaster Marian Finucane after the Irish government issued the bank guarantee, FitzPatrick said the cause of Ireland’s problems were “global”.

“So I can’t say sorry with any degree of sincerity and decency,” he said. “But I can say thank you.”

Following a complex criminal trial in 2017, a judge directed the jury to find FitzPatrick not guilty of hiding millions of euro in loans from auditors in 2017 due to “in the evidence in relation to each of the charges”.

The prosecution came on foot of an investigation by the ODCE that began shortly after the full size of FitzPatrick’s personal loans emerged in December 2008.

Between 2002 and 2007 loans taken out by FitzPatrick, his wife and family members increased from in the region of €10 million in 2002 to around €100 million in 2007. 

The loans were used to finance the development of shopping centres, hotels and offices at a time when a lot of money could be made in property development.

The prosecution in his trial had alleged that the amount of loans connected to FitzPatrick was artificially reduced for a period of two weeks around the bank’s financial end of year statement by short-term loans from other sources, including Irish Nationwide Building Society.

Described as “refinancing” this practice was also known as “bed-and-breakfasting” or “warehousing”, as the loans would be allegedly put into short term storage.

However, the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard there was nothing illegal about the loans arrangement.

After a 127 day long trial, Judge John Aylmer directed the jury to find FitzPatrick not guilty of all 27 charges due to flaws in the prosecution.

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It was the second time Fitzpatrick had faced trial over his personal dealings with Anglo.

At the time, Judge Aylmer had said that the investigation, carried out by the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE), fell short of an unbiased, impartial and balanced investigation that an accused is entitled to.

He said the most fundamental error was the way in which the ODCE set about taking statements from witnesses.

The judge said this involved coaching of witnesses, contamination of their statements from third parties such as solicitors for the auditors and cross-contamination between witness statements.

He said warnings to the jury would be inadequate to address these flaws.

Judge Aylmer also pointed to the extraordinary destruction of documents linked to the investigation by the lead investigator. This emerged during FitzPatrick’s initial 2015 trial.

The first case collapsed in 2015 after it was disclosed that documents held by the ODCE had been shredded by one of its officials.

FitzPatrick is survived by his wife Catriona and children Jonathan, David and Sarah. His funeral will take place in Greystones on 16 November.

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Michelle Hennessy

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