Anglo Irish Bank’s Sean FitzPatrick, Willie McAteer, Pat Whelan Face Fraud Charges in Court
Anglo Irish Bank’s Sean FitzPatrick, Willie McAteer, Pat Whelan Face Fraud Charges in CourtReuters

Anglo Irish Bank's former chief executive and chairman and two ex-senior members of staff face an Irish court on 5 February for their role in the alleged financial irregularities at the lender during the credit crisis.

AIB's former leader Sean FitzPatrick, alongside the bank's ex-head of lending Patrick Whelan and ex-finance director Willie McAteer will appear in front of Dublin's district court to defend themselves against allegations that they illegally provided loans to clients to buy shares in the bank.

The trial is tipped to be one of the longest in Irish criminal history due to the level of evidence that needs to be heard as well as the millions of documents the court has to plough through.

The court case is set to unveil 24 million documents and 800 witness statements and 15 jurors will sit through the evidence.

The Collapse of AIB

In 2008, the Irish government offered a blanket guarantee to its banks who were experiencing the credit crunch on the back of a massive property bubble with aggressive lending practises.

In 2010, Dublin had to accept a €85bn (£70bn, $115bn) bailout from the European Union and International Monetary Fund. To pay the bill, Ireland had to endure painful austerity measures and it took until December 2013 to formally exit the bailout programme.

Both the state bank guarantees and the bank bailouts have almost bankrupted Ireland's economy. Salaries have been cut and taxes have gone up to help pay debts resulting from the rescue.

AIB was renamed the Irish Banking Resolution Corporation (IBRC), Anglo Irish was nationalised in 2009 at the cost of €30bn from taxpayers. The group is still being wound down.

However in July 2012 FitzPatrick, Whelan and McAteer were charged for allegedly helping a group of 16 investors buy shares in the bank when it was in financial difficulties in 2008.

The Charges

FitzPatrick and others were arrested and were in court for 16 charges, under Section 60 of the Companies Act.

Ireland's Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) and the police launched a fraud probe in the lead up to the nationalisation of AIB for the last five years, which has included whether deposits were used to mask large withdrawals.

The 16 charges relate to giving unlawful financial assistance in connection with the purchase of AIB's shares to 16 people in July 2008, after a failed attempt to prop up AIB's share price after a stock market collapse.

Initially, money was given out by the bank to a select group, nicknamed the Maple 10, for the purchase of shares in the bank in 2008.

The 16 people mentioned in the charges include six members of the Quinn family, some of whom are currently fighting their own lawsuits, as the IBRC chases debts of €2.8bn from bankrupt former billionaire Sean Quinn senior.

Sean Quinn senior's son Sean junior is also one of the 16 people cited. He was imprisoned in 2012 for contempt of court after trying to hide €500m of property assets from the bank.