Seán FitzPatrick: Controversial Celtic-Irish banker iconic Celtic Tiger Ireland has died aged 73


Seán FitzPatrick, the former chairman of Anglo Irish Bank, has passed away.

The 73-year-old was rushed to hospital late last week after suddenly falling ill at home. He lost his battle for life on Monday.

A family spokesperson told the cause of death was cardiac arrest.

Mr. FitzPatrick is survived by his wife Triona and children Jonathan, David and Sarah.

Mr. FitzPatrick has been one of the country’s foremost bankers throughout his career, which peaked during the Celtic Tiger years.

But its public image changed dramatically when the Anglo Irish Bank collapsed, which ultimately cost taxpayers € 34 billion.

This then led to the EU-IMF bailout at the end of 2010.

In 1980, when Mr FitzPatrick was asked to hire a recruiting firm to compile a slate of candidates for the head of the young Anglo Irish Bank, he seized the opportunity and launched a successful campaign to persuade his bosses of him. entrust the post.

‘Little Anglo’, as one of the executives of the banking group called it, had gross assets of around IR £ 500,000.

But the Anglo Irish Bank would become a major financial force and “Seanie” would become a household name emblematic of Ireland’s rise and fall in turn.

But things ended in disaster when the bank went bankrupt in 2008, costing taxpayers 34 billion euros and leading the Irish state to an EU-IMF bailout in late 2010.

Mr FitzPatrick himself was forced to resign as chairman of the bank in December 2008 when it emerged that € 87 million in Mr FitzPatrick’s personal loans had been transferred to another bank to avoid d ” having to declare them to the shareholders.

The ruse was not illegal but was deemed “inappropriate” and “unacceptable” in terms of corporate governance.

In May 2018, following a landmark trial that lasted 127 days, he was acquitted of criminal charges relating to the alleged deception of the bank’s auditors.

The trial effectively collapsed without any evidence being presented to the jury.

When he closed the proceedings, the trial judge scathingly criticized the investigative standard adopted by the Office of the Director of Law Enforcement.

The episode added to the controversy over white collar crime failures and the lack of accountability of many of the prominent banking figures.

Seán FitzPatrick was born in Bray, County Wicklow on June 21, 1948.

He was the second of two children of Michael FitzPatrick, dairy farmer, and Johanna Maher, civil servant.

His sister Joyce O’Connor was also a very successful person working in academia and leading the National College of Ireland at a crucial time in its development.

He was educated at Presentation College in Bray and UCD where he studied business.

At school, he was a mediocre student who got only one honor in his graduation certificate.

Mr. FitzPatrick would later say that he was aware of his academic limitations and made it a positive part of his career.

He entered university by passing the graduation exam and after university he became a chartered accountant and worked for a time with another trainee accountant, Charlie McCreevy, who became Minister of Finance .

Mr. FitzPatrick joined the Irish Bank of Commerce in 1974 as an accountant, and this bank was bought out by the City of Dublin Bank which subsequently bought out the Anglo Irish Bank. He became Managing Director of Anglo Irish Bank in 1980 at the age of 32.

In 1986 he became Managing Director of the enlarged Anglo Irish Bank Corporation plc, a position he held until 2005, when he resigned.

In a controversial move seen by some as contrary to best practice, he became president of the bank.

His successor as managing director was David Drumm, who was later jailed on charges related to the bank collapse.

But at the time, Anglo Irish Bank weakened and in 2001 he reflected on how far he had come under his leadership, going from a capitalization of 1 million euros in 1986 to 1 billion euros 15 years later. .

“I was determined it was never just another bank,” he told author Ivor Kenny.

Known as “Seánie” by his family and friends, he was nicknamed “Fitzie” in the bank, but not across the street.

He was a clerk who believed in focus and smart work and was known for his excellent social media skills to compete with the most polite politician in the work of a room.

Mr. FitzPatrick played competitive rugby until his forties for the Bective Rangers and used the world of rugby to strengthen his business contacts.

He married Caitriona O’Toole, a former secretary of a consulting firm, and the family had three children, Johnathan, David and Sarah.

He became known for his brash public statements. In June 2007, when the alarm bells started ringing about banks and the housing bubble, Fitzpatrick spoke out against “corporate McCarthyism” in government with too much regulation.

After the government’s controversial decision to guarantee the banks at the end of September 2008, he gave an interview to Marian Finucane of RTÉ radio.

He categorically rejected suggestions that “irresponsible lending” by banks caused the crisis he blamed on the international economic collapse.

This time, he praised the government for the bank guarantee, insisting that it was the most important decision it has taken for the good of the country.

“If a bank collapsed, they would all fall. Everyone, ”he argued.

How the banks would pay for the support had not yet been determined through talks with the government and the central bank, he said.

Ms Finucane asked if Anglo would pay dividends at the end of the year, but declined a straightforward response saying it would be wrong to do so.

“But let me put it this way. The world hasn’t stopped. We were talking about a liquidity problem, we were not talking about a profitability problem, and the banks will look at it all,” he said. -he declares.

“We have a list of the details of what is going to be in the detailed regulations next week and we are going to look at that and we are going to have to discuss it with the Central Bank and the Ministry of Finance and find a solution that is fair, not only to banks, but also for the government and the taxpayer, ”he added.

Two months later, he was forced to quit his post as bank president.

His life from that point on has been a decade of controversy, litigation and court appearances, culminating in his failed criminal trial in May 2018.

After that, he disappeared from the limelight living in Greystones, County Wicklow, where he spent most of his life.

Most recently, he made the headlines for a planning battle with the local council over plans to build a new house.

This article was modified on November 9, 2021 to reflect the passing of Mr. FitzPatrick on Monday.


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