Willie McAteer, a native of Rathmullen, has been found guilty of ten offences by making loans to illegally boost Anglo Irish Bank’s share price..
The jury in the case at Dublin Criminal Court returned its verdict late yesterday, convicting the 63-year old former finance director and Pat Whelan, the 52-year-old former head of lending.
They, along with the bank’s former chairman and chief executive Sean FitzPatrick (65) had all pleaded not guilty to a total of sixteen charges each.
Earlier this week, the jury acquitted FitzPatrick of all charges.
The case, one of the biggest in Irish legal history, arose after the bank loaned money to ten of its top customers, now known as ‘The Maple Ten’, to buy out shares held by Fermanagh businessman Seán Quinn and members of his family.
Between them, the Quinns had “taken a punt” to support the bank, and acquired a stake of 28 per cent its shares.
Anglo had provided loans to the Quinns to buy some of these shares.
When it transpired that the Quinns might have to dispose of their shares, it was feared that this would lead the share price to fall dramatically.
Anglo persuaded ten of its top customers, now known as ‘The Maple 10’ to buy some of these shares, lending them €450 million to do so.
The bank collapsed a year later, and the government’s bailout ended up costing taxpayers €30 billion.
The jury decided that the loans to the Quinns were not illegal as they were not given as favourable terms as the Maple 10 were.
All three of the former Anglo executives were cleared regarding the Quinn loans.
McAteer and Whelan were convicted, however, in relation to the remaining ten loans, which breached company law by lending to a customer with the intention of affecting share price.
Directing the jury, Judge Martin Nolan said they must be satisfied that the loans were not made in the normal course of bank business, that each one of the defendants was aware of the scheme and did not try to stop it.
FitzPatrick’s defence claimed that he was out of the country when the deal happened and therefore his knowledge of the scheme was limited.
Judge Nolan adjourned sentencing to April 28 and remanded McAteer and Whelan on continuing a bail. They face a maximum sentence of five years for each offence.