July 31, 2015 / 3:57 PM / 4 years ago

Ireland jails first bankers since financial crisis

DUBLIN (Reuters) - An Irish court on Friday sentenced three former employees of Anglo Irish Bank to between 18 and 36 months in prison, the first bankers to be jailed since the country’s financial crash.

Pedestrians are seen walking past a branch of the Anglo Irish Bank in Dublin in this September 30, 2010 file photograph. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton/Files

The failure of Anglo Irish, which became synonymous with the casino-style lending practices that drove Ireland’s “Celtic Tiger” boom and subsequent bust, cost the state 30 billion euros (£22.1 billion), part of what forced the government to seek an EU/IMF bailout.

The three ex-employees were convicted by Dublin’s Circuit Criminal Court on Thursday of conspiring to hide accounts connected to the brother-in-law of former Chief Executive Sean Fitzpatrick and of conspiring to defraud the tax authorities.

On Friday the court sentenced former chief operations officer Tiarnan O’Mahoney, 56, to three years in prison and former company secretary Bernard Daly, 67, to two years. Aoife Maguire, a former assistant manager, was given 18 months.

Maguire closed her eyes when her jail term was announced, while her two co-accused looked straight ahead.

Judge Pat McCartan said the three appeared to have been acting out of loyalty to their superiors and their actions had not brought them financial gain.

But he said they had committed “significant and deliberate fraud”.

Two other senior executives were convicted in April last year for illegal lending and providing unlawful assistance to investors, but a judge declined to jail them, saying they had been “led into error and illegality” by the financial regulator.

FitzPatrick, the former company chairman, was found not guilty of the same charges, but he goes on trial again in October accused of failing to disclose the true value of multi-million euro loans.

Ireland is trying to extradite former CEO David Drumm from the United States.

Reporting by Conor Humphries; Editing by Robin Pomeroy

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