Two former directors of the bank that nearly bankrupted Ireland, Anglo Irish, have been sentenced to 240 hours community service for an illegal loan scheme.
Chartered accountant and former finance director of the bank William McAteer and former head of Irish lending Pat Whelan received the sentence at Dublin’s Circuit Criminal Court in lieu of a two-year jail sentence.
The pair had breached the Irish Companies Act 1963 by making illegal bank loans to 10 investors, known as the Maple 10 in July 2008. They did so as they had feared the bank’s share price was about to collapse due to an earlier high-risk transaction involving Sean Quinn, once Ireland’s richest man who owned millions of shares in the bank. He had built up a large stake in the bank by gambling on its share price.
According to state broadcaster RTÉ, this was the first prosecution under section 60 of the act.
The pair have been given a year to complete the community service. The judge didn’t specify what they were to do but potential activities include gardening, graffiti removal, recycling projects and painting and decorating community centres.
McAteer and Whelan were found guilty earlier this year of illegally lending to the investors to prop up the bank’s share price, reported the BBC.
The judge said the country’s financial regulator was at fault for not stopping the share price deal. He said it had led the directors into “error and illegality”.
McAteer, from Donegal but now living in Dublin, qualified as a chartered accountant in the 1970s, according to the Irish Times. He was a partner at PwC, going on to become managing director of venture capital lending firm Yeoman International Leasing. In 1992 he joined Anglo Irish Bank and remained finance director for 15 years.
In February, emergency legislation was passed by the Irish government to liquidate the bank. When it collapsed in 2008, it was the first bank to seek a government bailout.
The rescue of this and other Irish banks led to the IMF and EU having to bail the Irish government out in 2010 to the value of €85bn (£67m).