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State watchdog 'fully accepts' it coached witnesses in FitzPatrick trial

But the state corporate watchdog says that its practices have since changed.

Former Anglo Irish Bank CEO Sean FitzPatrick said it was a wonderful day, and said the trial had put a strain on him and his family.
Former Anglo Irish Bank CEO Sean FitzPatrick said it was a wonderful day, and said the trial had put a strain on him and his family.
Image: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

THE STATE’S CORPORATE watchdog has accepted ‘heavy’ criticism from the judge in the Sean FitzPatrick trial that evidence was contaminated, but said that the organisation’s practices had changed since that evidence was collected.

Earlier today, judge John Aylmer ended the longest-running criminal trial in the history of the State when he acquitted former Anglo Irish Bank chair Sean FitzPatrick of all charges.

His ruling came after lengthy submissions from the defence arguing that the case should not go before the jury because of flaws in the investigation process and in the prosecution case.

The Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) was accused of coaching two audit partners from Ernst & Young – witnesses central to the prosecution – and as a result, their evidence was contaminated.

But the ODCE has also defended its current processes, with a statement released this evening.

The ODCE fully accepts that criticism. However, the practices that were so heavily criticised by the trial judge date as far back as to early 2009.
Over the intervening years, the ODCE has undergone substantial organisational change and as a result, some eight years later, it is a very different organisation to what it was at that time.

It also outlined how its practices had changed over the past decade.

ODCE Source: ODCE

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Shredded documents

In January it came to light that a lead ODCE investigator into allegations against FitzPatrick shredded documents related to the case in what he called a ‘calamitous error‘.

The state watchdog sought to clarify this issue as well:

“[The incident] occurred at a time during which the staff member concerned was under enormous stress and against a backdrop of significant mental health issues, certain of which pre-dated the incident and which culminated in the staff member concerned being hospitalised for almost two months in the immediate aftermath of those events.”

The ODCE was tasked with investigating allegations that FitzPatrick failed to disclose multi-million euro loans to auditors, in what it called the most ‘high profile case’ it has been involved with to date.

Read: Ex-Anglo chair Sean FitzPatrick acquitted of all charges on day 126 of trial

Read: ‘It’s a wonderful day’: Sean FitzPatrick gives his reaction outside of court

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