If a week is a long time in politics than a day is a long time in banking. Within the space of 24 hours, three former senior executives at Anglo Irish Bank were arrested and charged in connection to financial irregularities at the bank. The bank (now known as the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation) is infamously known as the straw that broke the camel’s back, with Ireland playing the unfortunate role of the camel. The effects of a bailout that followed to fix the Irish banking crisis will remain for decades and set back the country enormously. But finally, the Irish people can almost taste the sweet zest of justice as the likely jailing of the these bankers heralds a new era of hope for the Emerald Isle.
Two days ago, former finance director at the bank, Willie McAteer, along with former managing director, Patrick Whelan were charged with 16 offenses under the Companies Act. Yesterday, after a dawn arrest at Dublin Airport, former CEO Seán Fitzpatrick was charged with 16 offenses also under the Companies Act. And it is Mr. Fitzpatrick’s appearance in court that holds particular promise that judicial fairness in the country does work after all hope was virtually lost. Fitzpatrick, labeled by the Independent newspaper as ”The banker who became Ireland’s most hated man,” was seemingly untouchable despite playing a large role in bringing his home country to the brink of bankruptcy. And more than three and a half years since the fraud investigation was opened, a significant progression was made this morning. His case, along with the two other bankers, will be brought to the Circuit Criminal Court, where they are all but certain of being found guilty.
The book of Anglo Irish Bank has had many chapters so far and as we near the end of it, it seems to throw up more twists than a Hollywood blockbuster. Despite the tumultuous turmoil that the Irish people have had to endure since the financial crisis, spurred on by banks, this news will re-energize the Irish people. After a testing four years since revelations about Fitzpatrick and the bank he ran were revealed, it is encouraging to hear that justice is at last being served. If this messy era of financial distortion can be put behind Ireland, then the once booming nation can focus on its recovery, without anymore sideshows.