décembre 8, 2021

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Former Anglo Irish Bank CEO, Shaun Fitzpatrick dies

A family spokesperson has confirmed the death of former CEO and Chairman of Anglo Irish Bank Seán FitzPatrick.

Mr. FitzPatrick, or « Seanie » as he was known to his friends and acquaintances, was 73 years old. He died yesterday after a short illness.

The former banker became known for the role he played in the rapid expansion and subsequent collapse of the Anglo Irish Bank, following the collapse of the ownership over a decade ago.

Chartered Accountant, in 1986 Mr. Fitzpatrick was appointed Chief Executive Officer of what was then the City of Dublin Bank which later became Anglo Irish Bank.

At that time, the bank was small, with few employees, while it was worth about 5 million euros.

But over the next two decades, he led the lender’s transformation from a small business to the third largest bank in the country, with a balance sheet estimated in the billions.

He did this by building what was a small commercial bank into a large lender to property developers who were operating in Ireland, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere.

Séan FitzPatrick, pictured in 1989

Anglo’s growth, championed by Mr. Fitzpatrick, coincided with the rise of the Celtic Tiger economy, which was in turn driven by a real estate bubble fueled in part by credit loans by the bank.

The expansion made the bank very profitable and in 2004, his last year as CEO, Mr. Fitzpatrick earned €2.7 million.

The following January, he was replaced by David Drum and moved to the position of President.

Over the next four years, under the leadership of both men, Anglo’s loan book tripled to €72 billion.

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In June 2007, Mr. Fitzpatrick criticized what he described as the « corporate McCarthyistic » culture surrounding business in Ireland.

That year, the bank’s annual profit peaked at €1.2 billion Anglo shares also gained more than 17 euros, valuing the bank at 13 billion euros.

But over the next year, the collapse of real estate and banks began to unfold and the dissolution of the Celtic Tiger, exposing the many holes in the balance sheets of Anglo Bank and other major Irish banks, and creating stress on liquidity.

On March 17, 2008, the bank’s share price fell nearly 15% following announcements in the United States the day before regarding the emergency sale of Bear Stearns.

Anglo Irish Bank was nationalized in January 2009

Soon the situation became more serious, and by September 2008 the government decided to introduce a 400 billion euro scheme that would guarantee the country’s main banks, including the Anglo Irish.

In an interview with broadcaster Marianne Finucane on RTÉ days later, Mr. Fitzpatrick declined the opportunity to apologize.

« The cause of our problems is global, » he said.

« So I can’t say sorry with any sincerity and decency. But I can say thank you, » he added.

But in December 2008 Mr. Fitzpatrick resigned as president amid an investigation by the financial regulator into the temporary transfer of his multi-million euro loans between Anglo and Irish Nationwide over eight years.

The effect of the transactions was that his loans did not appear in Anglo’s annual report.

He also left the boards of Aer Lingus and Smurfit Kappa where he worked as a director.

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The state began recapitalizing the Anglo Irish Bank, but it was eventually nationalized in January 2009.

In the 15 months to the end of December 2009, Anglo recorded a pre-tax loss of 12.7 billion euros as a result of having to write off 15 billion euros of bad loans.

Loans totaling 34.4 billion euros were later transferred to the National Asset Management Agency, which bought it for 13.4 billion euros.

Anglo eventually merged with the Irish Nationwide to become the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, which is still in liquidation today.

The Comptroller and Auditor General estimated the total cost of the two banks’ collapse to the taxpayer at 36 billion euros.

In February 2009, it turned out that in an effort to prop up the bank’s share price, Anglo loaned 450 million euros to a group of 10 clients, known as Maple 10, to purchase a 10% portion of a much larger stake established by entrepreneur Sean Coen in the bank via CFDs.

Garday and members of the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement raided Anglo’s offices in February 2009.

Séan FitzPatrick died after a short illness

Then in March 2010, Mr. Fitzpatrick was arrested by members of Garda’s fraud squad and questioned at Bray Garda Station, near his home in Greystones in Co Wicklow, before being released without charge.

That same month, Angelo initiated legal proceedings against him in an attempt to recover €70m of unpaid loans.

Later that year, Fitzpatrick was declared bankrupt with a debt of 147 million euros.

In December of the same year, Taoiseach Brian Cowen quit, in part because it emerged he had played a round of golf with Mr. Fitzpatrick a few months before the bank guarantee was issued in 2008.

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A year later, Mr. Fitzpatrick was arrested a second time by Garday as part of an investigation into financial wrongdoing. He was again released without charge.

Seven months later he was arrested for the third time, this time on 16 counts of crimes related to his role in the Maple 10 case.

However, he denied the charges and in April 2014 he was acquitted of all of them.

That year, Mr. Fitzpatrick was pardoned from bankruptcy.

In November 2016, he again went to trial, this time charged with 27 counts under the Companies Act 1990 related to allegations that he misled bank auditors over a five-year period by failing to disclose loans worth tens of millions of euros.

22 counts of making misleading, false or deceptive statements and five counts of providing false information. Mr. Fitzpatrick again pleaded not guilty to the charges.

But the Corporate Law Enforcement Director’s Office case was mired in problems and during the trial it was found that potentially valuable documents had been shredded and witnesses trained.

In 2017, after the longest criminal trial in the state’s history, Judge John Aylmer issued a directive acquitting Mr. Fitzpatrick, criticizing the ODCE for its handling of the investigation.

Two years later, Mr. Fitzpatrick was expelled from Ireland’s CPA and fined €25,000.

Mr. Fitzpatrick is survived by his wife Catriona and three children David, Jonathan and Sarah.