Fitzpatrick: I had no reason to hide loans

Seán FitzPatrick, the former Anglo Irish chairman, told gardaí that he had no reason to hide the full extent of his loans from the bank, his trial has been told.

It is the prosecution’s case that multimillion-euro loans taken out by Mr FitzPatrick, 68, and his family were “artificially reduced” for a period of two weeks around the bank’s financial end-of-year statement by short-term loans from sources including Irish Nationwide Building Society (INBS).

On the 115th day of the country’s longest running criminal trial the prosecution told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court their case was complete. Bernard Condon, SC, for the defence, said that he had some applications to make and these would take some time. The jury was asked to return on May 11.

Earlier the court was told that after his arrest Mr FitzPatrick told gardaí that there was no financial benefit to him, his family or Anglo Irish Bank in the annual refinancing process that had artificially reduced the loans. He said that he had never suggested that the refinancing be done.

“I never went and spoke to anyone in INBS. I never came up with the suggestion that it should be done. Every year someone in the accounts department did it and it was done, done, done and I just signed it,” he told gardaí.

He denied that he was seeking to conceal the extent of his loans from the bank’s board, shareholders or auditors. “This was not being done behind closed doors. It was not being done secretly. There was no secrecy about the loan process. No prohibition on anyone being told about it,” he told Detective Sergeant Brian Mahon during interviews at Bray Garda Station.

He said that about 40 staff in the bank knew about the refinancing. Asked if he was trying to conceal his loans from the auditors he said that the bank’s loans figures were returned every quarter to the Central Bank.

Asked if the refinancing was “a deliberate attempt to mislead the auditors about the true extent of your loans” Mr FitzPatrick replied: “Why would I want to do that? Where was the benefit for me? Where was I making money? All of the loans up to 2008 were performing, approved by the credit committee, where was the benefit for me in refinancing?”

He said he did not believe that loans he had taken out as part of investment partnerships he was involved with had to be disclosed in Anglo’s figures because he was liable for only part of them. He claimed that the refinancing was done for the first four or five years to ensure “a misleading picture was not put out”.

“If there was no refinancing, the bank would have included the entire partnership loans and the question was which was more misleading,” he told gardaí.

He said that it was suggested by the bank in 1995 that this was the route he should take to more accurately reflect the level of real borrowing by him. He said that he did not know who came up with the solution.

“There was no financial benefit to me, my family or the bank,” he added.

He said that he had no recollection of he or his wife giving instructions for the temporary transfer of monies from his own deposit accounts. Gardaí asked him how it could have happened without instruction, to which he replied: “Exactly. How did it happen?”

He said that he did not know if any other directors, non-executive directors or Anglo senior management knew about the full extent of his borrowings.

Mr FitzPatrick of Whitshed Road, Greystones, Co Wicklow, has denied 27 offences under the 1990 Companies Act. These include 22 charges of making a misleading, false or deceptive statement to auditors and five charges of furnishing false information between 2002 and 2007.

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