\"Sean

Sean Fitzpatrick, the former chairman of the defunct Anglo Irish Bank has walked free from court after being cleared of all charges. Photo by: Photocall Ireland

Anglo Irish Bank ex-chairman Sean Fitzpatrick found not guilty of fraud

\"Sean

Sean Fitzpatrick, the former chairman of the defunct Anglo Irish Bank has walked free from court after being cleared of all charges. Photo by: Photocall Ireland

The former chairman of the defunct Anglo Irish Bank has walked free from court after being cleared of all charges relating to an illegal loan-for-shares deal the bank put together in the months it collapsed over five years ago.

Sean Fitzpatrick, 65, had denied providing unlawful financial assistance to a select group of 10 clients - known as the 'Maple 10' - to buy shares in the bank in July 2008.

The jury returned the majority verdict at the Circuit Criminal Court in Dublin yesterday, after deliberating for over 14 hours since last Friday.

Jurors have been sent home and will resume deliberating tomorrow on the charges against two other bank directors, Pat Whelan and William McAteer.

Whelan, 51, and McAteer, 63, both from Dublin, are accused of 16 counts of providing unlawful financial assistance to 16 individuals, including the so-called 'Maple 10' and the family of bankrupt former industrialist Sean Quinn, to purchase shares in the bank.

But yesterday the media focus was on Fitzpatrick, as he walked free from court and spoke of the "great personal difficulty" he had endured over the past few years.

Speaking outside the court, Fitzpatrick, from Greystones, Co. Wicklow, said, "First of all, I would like to thank my wife, my two sons and my daughter and my sister, who have supported me, not only during this trial, but for the past six years of great personal difficulty.

"I would of course especially like to thank my legal team, solicitor Michael Staines, Senior Counsel Michael O'Higgins, Junior Counsel John Fitzgerald and Gavin McCormack for their dedication and hard work.

"I would like also to especially thank the women and men of the jury who found me not guilty of all charges.

"To all my friends who have stood by me and in particular two very special friends, I will always be truly grateful for their support during this very difficult time.

"I now simply ask that the courtesy, which has been extended to me and my family during this trial by the media, will be maintained and the privacy of my family, which has been intruded on over the past six years, will now cease."

During the trial the prosecution had alleged the loans, which were part of a scheme to unwind tycoon Sean Quinn's holding in the bank, were illegal.

They argued that Fitzpatrick was aware of the lending, but did nothing to stop it.

But his lawyers told the court their high-profile client was the only non-executive director to face criminal charges and insisted he had been singled out for prosecution as the face of Anglo.

The Maple 10 deal was designed to unwind the 29.4 percent control of the bank that Quinn had built up through investment tools known as Contracts for Difference (CFDs).

The ten investors were loaned a total of $623m (€450m) by Anglo to purchase about 10 percent of the shares that Quinn controlled.

Quinn's wife and five children were also loaned $234m (€169m) to buy nearly 15 percent of the stock.

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