Hugely Significant Figure In Irish Economic History Sean Fitzpatick Leaves Chequered Legacy

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Sean Fitzpatrick

The death has been announced of the former chief executive and chairman of Anglo Irish Bank, Seánie FitzPatrick. He was 73 and died yesterday following a cardiac arrest.

A controversial figure, his clearly apparent role in the rapid expansion and then collapse of Anglo was central to the explosion of the Celtic Tiger and subsequent property bubble that ultimately and spectacularly burst.

A chartered accountant by trade, he led the transformation of the tiny lender City of Dublin Bank from a minnow to the third largest in the country, with a balance sheet worth billions.

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He was the former chairman of Anglo Irish Bank until he resigned in December 2008 amid mounting revelations over hidden loans.

The scandal precipitated a collapse of the bank’s share price which in turn led to its nationalisation on 21 January 2009.

Anglo Collapse

FitzPatrick, while Anglo Irish chairman, had borrowed more than €100 million from the bank and hid the loans from auditors for eight years.

The former multi-millionaire banker defaulted on the loans following a series of major business setbacks.

Both FitzPatrick and the bank said in statements on his resignation that his handling of the loans was neither illegal nor a breach of Irish banking regulations.

But an apologetic new chairman Donal O’Connor told shareholders that FitzPatrick’s loans were “wrong and unacceptable“.

The following day, headlines read: “Seán FitzPatrick Should Go To Jail” which competed with the likes of “If FitzPatrick Lived in New York, He’d Have Been Arrested By Now“.

Arrests

On March 16th, 2010 Gardaí were given a warrant to search Fitzpatrick’s house before he was arrested on the morning of March 18th, 2010 at his house in Greystones, Co. Wicklow.

He was arrested by the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation. After more than 24 hours of questioning, he was released without charge on 19 March 2010. On Friday, December 9th 2011, Fitzpatrick was again arrested, allegedly as part of an investigation into “Financial Irregularities at a Financial Institution“.

On July 24th, 2012, Fitzpatrick was arrested as part of an investigation into “Financial Irregularities at a Financial Institution“. He was charged with 16 offences by Gardaí attached to the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement relating to his role in advising on and lending millions to a golden circle of investors to falsely inflate Anglo’s share price.

After the ODCE’s investigation methods were found to be flawed, on 23 May 2017 the judge in Fitzpatrick’s trial directed that he be acquitted of all charges.

Irish Life and Permanent transaction

In 2010, Sean Fitzpatrick, David Drumm, and former Anglo Irish Bank finance director Willie McAteer and Peter Fitzpatrick former director of finance at Irish Life and Permanent had ‘prima facie‘ cases to answer in relation to their roles in controversial dealings at Anglo Irish Bank and transactions to Irish Life and Permanent.

Sean FitzPatrick was tried for temporarily transferring his loans from Anglo Irish Bank to Irish Life and Permanent to avoid financial statements, more Irish Life and Permanent transactions in 2008 and a Willie McAteer loan of 2008.

In 2017, after the longest running criminal trial in the state’s history, Judge John Aylmer directed that Mr FitzPatrick be acquitted, criticising the ODCE for its handling of the probe.

Two years later, Mr FitzPatrick was expelled from membership of Chartered Accountant’s Ireland and fined €25,000. Mr FitzPatrick is survived by his wife Catriona and three children, David, Jonathan and Sara.