Former Anglo Irish Bank chairman Seán FitzPatrick is facing a number of charges including making a misleading, false or deceptive statement to auditors and of furnishing false information from 2002 to 2007 in his trial before Dublin Circuit Criminal Court in October. But it is not clear, if he will face the more serious charge of defrauding the tax revenue.
During a trial of three former officials of Anglo Irish Bank for hiding offshore accounts, it emerged that Sean Fitzpatrick was the main mover and prime beneficiary of the tax fraud. All the accounts involved had links to Fitzpatrick.
Yet not even the pleas of Senior Counsel Sean Guerin, representing a former company secretary at Anglo, who carried out fraud on instructions, could bring judge Patrick McCartan to charge FitzPatrick in relation to the now proven fraud, even though the case against Fitzpatrick was stronger than the case against now jailed staff.
It is unacceptable that Judge McCartan has shown blatant favouritism towards the Anglo banker Fitzpatrick. It is unacceptable that Fitzpatrick was not on trial, and unacceptable that the jury did not have to form any conclusion about his culpability. It is also unacceptable that tax fraud does not appear to be one of the charges Fitzpatrick faces in October.
Judge McCartan must be investigated. His refusal to apply the law in the Fitzpatrick case requires an explanation. Many Irish people will immediately think in terms of offshore bank accounts, a suspicion McCartan will certainly not want hanging in the air. It is imperative that an investigation is launched into any personal or financial links between McCartan and Anglo banker FitzPatrick and his circle to restore confidence in the justice system.
Bankers like Fitzpatrick cannot be too big to jail. And nor should judges like McCartan be too big to fail.