Marathon banking trial set to start in Ireland

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One of the biggest trials in Irish legal history gets under way this week when three former bankers face charges of trying to inflate the share price of the now-defunct rogue lender Anglo Irish Bank.

Sean FitzPatrick, the former chairman and one-time chief executive, former finance director Willie McAteer and former chief financial officer Pat Whelan face a total of 16 charges.

The three men are due before court 19 of the Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin tomorrow morning for a trial that is expected to last six months – one of the longest-running criminal trials in Irish history.

Vast amounts of technical and financial evidence will be put before a jury after case management hearings were told there are 24 million documents and 800 witness statements.

An IT system will be used to electronically display documents during the trial while jurors will also be given laptops to view material.

Owing to the expected level of public interest, a special viewing room is being opened in the Phoenix Park courts complex to allow people to watch the trial via video link.

FitzPatrick, 64, of Greystones, Co Wicklow, McAteer, 62, of Rathgar, south Dublin, and Whelan, 50, of Coast Road, Malahide, Co Dublin, have been charged with 16 counts of providing unlawful financial assistance to individuals in July 2008 to buy shares in the bank.

They are expected to enter pleas of not guilty.

The charges are linked to alleged loans of 451 million euro (£350m) to the family of bankrupt former billionaire Sean Quinn and a golden circle of 10 clients hand-picked to invest in stock to prop up the share price.