The longest running criminal trial in Irish history has finally come to an end with the sentencing of three former banking executives over a $8.03 billion (€7.2 billion) fraud.
Willie McAteer, Denis Casey and John Bowe were handed prison sentences by Judge Martin Nolan for their part in conspiring to artificially inflate the books of Anglo Irish Bank and make accounts look healthier than they were.
Former Anglo Irish Bank executive and chief risk officer McAteer was sentenced to three and a half years in jail; Bowe, his Anglo colleague and treasury official, was given a two-year sentence; and Casey, the former group chief executive of Irish Life and Permanent, was jailed for two years and nine months. They now have 28 days to appeal their convictions.
In June, after a 89-day trial and 65 hours of deliberation, a jury at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court found the three men guilty of establishing a circular scheme of billion dollar transactions in order to make Anglo Irish Bank look healthier than it was.
The scheme involved transactions in which Anglo moved money to Irish Life, where Casey was chief executive, which would then send the money back to Anglo via their assurance firm Irish Life Assurance.
By carrying out the transactions via the assurance firm, the money went on record as a customer deposit instead of an interbank loan. Customer deposits are considered more of a strength to the bank. The conspiracy ran between September 26 and 30 in 2008.
In handing out his sentences to McAteer (65), Bowe (52), and Casey (56), Judge Nolan said the transactions at the heart of the scheme were “dishonest, deceitful and corrupt.”
“All they did was to create the impression that Anglo Irish Bank had €7.2 billion more in corporate deposits than it had,” he continued, stating that the public should be able to rely on their banks and that they were entitled to “integrity and honesty”.
“The public is entitled to rely on the probity of blue-chip companies and blue-chip banks ... If we cannot rely on blue-chip banks, we lose trust in institutions.” Nolan said.
The judge noted that the three former bankers were men of experience and they had not personally benefited from the transactions but were trying to save the bank. He continued to state that this did not excuse the dishonest scheme.
“I can appreciate the desperation of the moment. I can appreciate that everyone at Anglo wanted to save the bank. But saving the bank isn’t everything,” the judge told the packed courtroom in a 20 minute statement.
“All three men acted in what they thought would be in the interests of their companies.”
Nolan also acknowledged that the transactions were not the cause of the banking crisis in Ireland in 2008, “but what they did nonetheless was extremely wrong,” and so the seriousness of the crimes warranted a prison sentence.
Judge Nolan stated that the starting point in deciding prison sentences for the conspirators was eight years but their business history previous to this and other factors were taken into account before the finals sentences were delivered. All three men had pleaded guilty to charges.
The three men lost their jobs once their unlawful conduct was revealed. McAteer also lost millions of euro with the collapse of Anglo, in which he owned a large and valuable shareholding.
H/T: The Irish Times