Finance minister Brian Lenihan will soon have to decide whether to sign off on a repayment schedule of the tens of millions of euro Sean FitzPatrick owes Anglo Irish after a court granted the bank's former chairman a so-called order of protection from his creditors, the Sunday Tribune has learned.
FitzPatrick, who owes Anglo Irish at least €70m, will now seek to sit down in person with representatives of the nationalised lender to help strike an agreement with the bank he used to run, in a process that will need to be eventually approved by Lenihan.
Fergus O'Dowd, a Fine Gael TD, questioned whether any arrangement that FitzPatrick strikes with Anglo Irish should be kept secret. O'Dowd said he plans to ask questions this week in the Dáil about "the arrangement" between "the taxpayers' bank Anglo and its former chairman Mr FitzPatrick" .
The court granting FitzPatrick the order of protection was held in private session. The Sunday Tribune understands that holding such sessions in private remains contentious in legal circles because there is no apparent statutory basis for doing so.
Experts say that court-approved protection, a first step in a scheme of arrangement as an alternative to bankruptcy, was usually sought by debtors anticipating imminent bankruptcy proceedings.
If enough creditors back Fitzpatrick's proposal, the scheme will give him more privacy from public scrutiny over the nature of the debts he owes Anglo and the assets he owns around the world than if he had faced standard bankruptcy proceedings, some legal experts say.
Michael Staines, Sean Fitzpatrick's solicitor, was not available on Friday. The Department of Finance said it had no comment to make.