Sean FitzPatrick: assurances

The loans Anglo Irish Bank advanced to former directors, including €107m given to ex-chairman Sean FitzPatrick, are being investigated for possible breaches under two specific sections of the Companies Act, the Sunday Tribune understands.

A separate investigation by the Financial Regulator into possible breaches of European Union law banning insider trading is progressing in parallel with the investigations underway from the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE).

The terms of the loans that Anglo Irish advanced to directors are being investigated for possible breaches of Sections 41-46 of the 1990 Companies Act that deal with the full disclosure of loans made by companies and banks in their financial statements.

In the past, company-law experts have noted that the disclosure requirements for banks are less onerous under company law than for loans advanced to directors by other types of companies.

ODCE investigations into the circumstances of the purchase of about 75 million Anglo shares, or 10% of the bank, by a group of 10 investors last July is understood to be focusing on Section 60 of the Companies Act 1963, which deals with financial assistance in buying company shares.

Anglo Irish is also under investigation for the EU's market-abuse directive that deals with possible insider trading.

The market-abuse laws, which replaced provisions in the 1990 Act dealing with companies listed on the main Dublin market, may soon extend to cover all companies listed in Dublin, it is believed.

Corporate enforcer Paul Appleby told a press briefing on Friday the investigations had made progress.

The ODCE said it would not comment on whether its investigators had met Sean FitzPatrick.

"The whole investigation is one we are treating with the utmost seriousness," Appleby said.

The executive chairman Donal O'Connor revealed on Friday that he was told last July that 10 investors were going to buy shares in the bank. He said assurances from FitzPatrick made him believe the transactions were perfectly legal and complied with all regulatory requirements. He refused to say what the Anglo board knew about the transactions.

O'Connor faced a barrage of questions from reporters about the issue, although he dismissed suggestions the board were mute about the arrangements, simply saying he believed he had done everything right during the relevant period.