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Sean FitzPatrick trial: jury discharged as judge sets a new trial date

The jury has been discharged in the trial of the former Anglo boss after seven weeks of legal argument.

Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

THE JURY HAS been discharged in the trial of former Anglo Irish Bank chairman Sean FitzPatrick over the alleged failure to disclose millions of euros in loans to the bank’s auditors.

The end of the trial at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court comes after seven weeks of legal argument in the absence of the jury.

Judge Mary Ellen Ring told the jury of six women and five men today that the legal issues had been dealt with and as a result of these the time frame for the trial had changed significantly.

She discharged the jury and excused them from jury service for seven years. A new trial date has been set for 5 October next.

The charges before the court were brought by the Director of Public Prosecutions after an investigation by the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) into the alleged annual “warehousing” of loans by Mr FitzPatrick before the failed bank’s end of year financial statements.

Mr FitzPatrick (66) of Whitshed Road, Greystones, Co Wicklow had pleaded not guilty to 27 offences under the 1990 Companies Act. These included 21 charges of making a misleading, false or deceptive statement to auditors and six charges of furnishing false information in the years 2002 to 2007.

The judge told the jury, numbering eleven after one juror was excused from duty last week because of issues with his own work, that this trial was no longer going ahead.

She said:

We will have to engage another jury to deal with this matter.

There have been 27 days of the trial with all but a few of these involving day long legal wrangling between barristers for Mr FitzPatrick and for the prosecution. Both legal teams consisted of two senior counsel, two junior counsel and a number of solicitors.

No evidence was ever opened to the jury as the legal issue raised on the opening day led almost immediately to a voir dire or “a trial within a trial”.

The start of the trial before the jury was repeatedly delayed. Last month, Judge Ring apologised to the jurors for these delays and told them than a witness illness was causing “serious timetable problems”.

Mr FitzPatrick is accused of failing to disclose to Anglo’s auditors, Ernst and Young, the true amount of loans to him or people connected with him.

The prosecution claims he authorised arrangements to ensure that the balance of those loans would be reduced or appear to be reduced at the end of the bank’s financial year and failed to tell the auditors about those arrangements.

He is also accused of failing to tell the auditors about arrangements between Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide Building Society in connection with loans to him by Irish Nationwide.

Finally he is accused of producing financial statements about the value of loans to Anglo’s directors which failed to include the true amounts outstanding by him to the bank.

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Declan Brennan

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