Sean FitzPatrick remembered by family as a ‘giant of a man’

Former banker Sean FitzPatrick has been remembered by his daughter as a “giant of a man”.

Sara also described him as their rock, adding they will miss him dearly.

The former chief executive and chairman of Anglo Irish Bank died at the age of 73 last Monday after a short illness.

Businessman Denis O’Brien, former bankers David Drumm and Tiarnan O’Mahoney, and former Independent News and Media chairman Leslie Buckley were among the mourners who gathered for his funeral on Tuesday at the Holy Rosary Church in Greystones in Co Wicklow.

Sean FitzPatrick funeral
Catriona FitzPatrick (right) arrives at Holy Rosary Church, Greystones, Ireland, for the funeral of of her husband Sean FitzPatrick, the former chief executive and chairman of Anglo Irish Bank (Niall Carson/PA)

Sara told the funeral service how he was a “very loving and very present father” who was “always there for us” from her brothers’ rugby matches to her dance recitals when they were children, to calling them every day as adults, even when they lived on different continents and different time zones.

She described her father as having “this extraordinary ability to connect with people” from all walks of life.

“So many people have said to us what struck them most about dad was his humility,” she said.

“He loved people, plain and simple. He was always interested in people’s stories and genuinely interested in people’s lives.

“He always wanted to help out in any way that he could, and by god he left a lasting impression on anybody he met.”

She described her father as having had “a lot of professional highs and low in his life”.

Sean FitzPatrick funeral
The coffin of Sean FitzPatrick, the former chief executive and chairman of Anglo Irish Bank, leaves Holy Rosary Church, Greystones, Ireland, following his funeral (Niall Carson/PA)

“He was a man who had enormous mental strength.

“When we were down he would pick us up, he would constantly remind us that the road in life is long and winding, but the measure of a person is not their successes but in fact how they could find a way to move forward when they had been knocked down off a horse. In that regard our dad was a giant of a man.”

The former bank boss became a well-known and controversial figure following the transformation, rise and collapse of the bank.

He built Anglo over 30 years to become one of the biggest lending institutions in Ireland.

Anglo went bust during the financial crash and cost the Irish state about 29 billion euro.

Mr FitzPatrick joined the Irish Bank of Commerce in 1976 and is widely credited with the past success of the bank, which went on to become Anglo.

He took over as chief executive of the group in 1986 and remained with the company for almost 20 years, overseeing its major expansion and generating huge profits.

Sean FitzPatrick funeral
Former Anglo Irish Bank chief David Drumm (left) arrives at Holy Rosary Church, Greystones, Ireland, for the funeral of Sean FitzPatrick, the former chief executive and chairman of Anglo Irish Bank (Niall Carson/PA)

The ex-banker stepped down in December 2008 when it emerged he had loans worth 87 million euro with the institution.

Mr FitzPatrick was declared bankrupt in July 2010.

He was arrested two years later by officers investigating financial irregularities and later charged over a failed insider trading scam.

However, the case collapsed in 2015 after it was disclosed that documents held by the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) had been shredded by one of its officials.

Mr FitzPatrick was previously found not guilty by a jury after being charged over multi-million loans that Anglo gave to major clients, known as the Maple 10, to buy shares in the bank as its stock market price collapsed.

Sean Fitzpatrick court case
Former Anglo Irish Bank chairman Sean Fitzpatrick leaves the Dublin Criminal Court after a judge told him he is a free man after directing a jury to find him not guilty of fraud (Niall Carson/PA)

In 2017, a judge directed a jury to find Mr FitzPatrick not guilty of fraud.

He had been on trial for the 126 days accused of “artificially reducing” personal loans for a few weeks around the end of the defunct bank’s financial year to avoid their full value being shown in accounts.

In the longest criminal trial in Irish history, the former bank boss was told the jury was given a direction to find him not guilty.

The judge was critical of the investigation by the ODCE, and said there was a real risk to Mr FitzPatrick of an unfair trial.

Mr FitzPatrick had pleaded not guilty to more than two dozen offences under company law including making a misleading, false or deceptive statement to auditors and furnishing false information between 2002 to 2007.

Mr FitzPatrick is survived by his wife Catriona and their children, David, Jonathan and Sara.