Mick Clifford: How Sean FitzPatrick became public enemy number one

Mick Clifford: How Sean FitzPatrick became public enemy number one

For some, Seanie Fitz was the man who brought the country to its knees, the personification of the hubris, greed, and reckless abandon that fuelled the Celtic Tiger years. 

Others were grateful for his notoriety as it deflected from their culpability in the collapse of the economy in 2008. 

And presumably, there are those who knew him personally and saw beyond the caricature that was hauled to the public stocks. 

Their grief is real, their loss must be keenly felt as Mr FitzPatrick was only 73 when he died suddenly.

Most in the country, however, will remember him as ‘public enemy number one’ in the years following the crash and the imposition of austerity.

Through those angry, traumatic years, Seanie Fitz’s name was hauled out on every available public forum. 

He ruined the country. He is enjoying his fat pension. He won’t be evicted from his home. He won’t be going to prison. He must be laughing at all of us.

The caricature was unfair but inevitable. After all, this man had been the Pied Piper of the Celtic Tiger years, the spiritual leader of a class of business people who saw themselves as dragging the country into the 21st century. 

In 2005, he delivered a typical speech to a gathering of kindred spirits about how they all had elevated the nation’s fortunes. 

“We had ideas and we had balls,” he said. 

“We worked the scene and maximised the moment.”

By then, he had moved from chief executive of Anglo Irish Bank to chairman. He was instrumental in installing his protégé, David Drumm, into the CEO role.

That move allowed Seanie to maintain major influence on the bank as lending went into the stratosphere. In time, Drumm would go to prison, a fate FitzPatrick managed to avoid.

When he gave that speech he was also secretly taking out huge loans from the bank in order to get a piece of the Celtic Tiger action, buying and selling property, working the scene. 

The loans were kept secret by moving them for 24 hours during the annual audit. 

Those who organised this bed and breakfasting of his loans, as it was known, would in time go to prison. Once more, Seanie avoided the final indignity of a spell inside. 

He didn’t avoid bankruptcy, which was to be his fate in 2010. At the height of his success, he had been reputed to be worth €200m.

Twice he was tried for alleged crimes. 

The first time in 2014 a jury acquitted him, and in 2017, after the longest-running criminal trial in the history of the State, a judge directed the jury to acquit him. 

The latter case collapsed because of the manner in which the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement pursued the case. 

The general reaction from the public to these outcomes might be summed up as declaring the law is an ass, and in relation to financial crime, certainly until recent years, it would be di

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