24m papers in Anglo case

AROUND 24 million documents have to be examined before the former Anglo-Irish Bank chief executive and chairman Sean Fitzpatrick and two senior executives go on trial, a court has heard.

The bankrupt banker and co-accused Pat Whelan and Willie McAteer appeared yesterday before the Circuit Criminal Court in Dublin where a trial date was fixed for January 13 next year.

Fitzpatrick, 64, former finance director McAteer, 61, and former managing director of lending Whelan, 50, face 16 charges of trying to falsely inflate the toxic lender’s share price in 2008.

The court heard it was a complex case and legal teams needed time for documents to be disclosed, studied and culled.

Brendan Grehan, senior counsel for Whelan, said the trial could take a minimum of three months.

“Twenty-four million documents ... may have to be considered in some way or other,” he said.

“It will be considerably more complex than any previous case.”

The 16 charges are linked to loans of EURO451 million (£350m) in an alleged plot involving the family of bankrupt former billionaire Sean Quinn and a golden circle of clients hand picked to invest in stock to prop up the share price.

Judge Mary Ellen Ring adjourned the case for six weeks for mention.

All three men were dressed in suits and sat in the public gallery for the short hearing. They did not address the court.

Una Ni Raifeartaigh, senior counsel for the State, told the judge it could take another couple of months for all documents to be disclosed to the defence legal teams, who would then need ample time to examine them.

She asked the court to fix a trial date and appoint a pre-trial judge to deal with any disclosure issues, which may be decided on March 6.

The judge noted that the charges dated back to 2008 and the men were sent for trial last October.

“If you can’t get it done in 12 months, it says something about the whole of the system,” Judge Ring added.

Separately, Fitzpatrick has been charged with 12 counts of giving auditors false or misleading information on directors’ loans totalling almost EURO140m (£117.7m) over a five-year period.

He is due before Dublin District Court for that case in March.