Ex-Anglo Irish Bank directors found guilty of fraud

Two former directors of the collapsed Anglo Irish Bank were found guilty Thursday of providing illegal loans to support the bank's share price, after an 11-week trial.

Patrick Whelan, 52, and William McAteer, 63, were found guilty on 10 counts of providing unlawful financial assistance to customers of the bank to buy shares in the lender in July 2008.

The bank went bust shortly afterwards, leaving the Irish economy close to collapse.

Whelan and McAteer were both found not guilty on six other similar charges.

On Wednesday, the bank's former chairman Sean Fitzpatrick was found not guilty on 10 charges.

The loans-for-shares deal was part of a plan concocted in 2008 to unwind former billionaire Sean Quinn's stake after it emerged he had built up a secret 28-percent holding in the bank.

The bank feared Quinn would be forced to dump his sizeable stake in an uncontrolled manner, causing the bank's share price to plummet.

The prosecution argued that the loans breached company law because the scheme was arranged with the intention of affecting its own share price.

Anglo, mostly a commercial and business bank, lent recklessly during Ireland's Celtic Tiger years and required billions of euros in state support when the real estate market collapsed.

In 2008, nearly 30 billion euros ($41 billion) of taxpayers' money had to be pumped into the bank to prevent it from going under.

The following year, the Irish government nationalised the bank.

Sentencing will take place on April 28.