Former Irish Nationwide chief executive Michael Fingleton faces the possibility of financial wipeout as the special liquidators of Anglo Irish Bank launched a multimillion euro lawsuit against the former building society boss and four of his board members.
Last week, the court heard that Fingleton may not be covered by a liability insurance policy for Irish Nationwide top brass, potentially leaving him open to vast legal bills.
Last week Mr Justice Peter Kelly agreed to fast-track separate proceedings by the special liquidators against Mr Fingleton and four other former Irish Nationwide directors in the Commercial Court. These include former chairman Michael Walsh, Stan Purcell, David Brophy and Terence Cooney. Fingleton's counsel Bill Shipsey told the court that he was concerned that the former banker was not covered by insurance within the meaning of a policy relating to directors and officers of the Society.
While no sum is specified in the lawsuit against Fingleton or the ex-directors, the judge noted the claim will run into tens of millions of euro.
The lawsuit alleges that Fingleton failed in his fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of the society and was negligent. It also seeks to recover Fingleton's controversial €1m bonus as well as some of his expenses.
Fingleton's finances are believed to have taken a beating in the downturn. At one stage he had a pension pot valued at close to €27.6m. However, this pension nest egg was heavily exposed to Irish bank shares. In a statement detailing his net worth – given to Ulster Bank in 2010 – Fingleton said that his most valuable asset was a €4m stake in a hotel development in Montenegro as well as a €3m valued home in Shankill, Co Dublin.
He also told the bank he had €1m in cash, four apartments in the Mespil flats complex worth €1.2m, a €950,000 valued house in Leopardstown and another property worth €900,000 in Phibsborough, all in Dublin. Fingleton also claimed that he had initiated legal action to recover €10m held in trust by a third party in relation to a property deal with developer Gerry Gannon.
Details of expenses claimed by Fingleton were catalogued in Sunday Independent journalist Tom Lyons's book Fingers – co-authored by Richard Curran. These included €6,000 for a Gucci watch, €12,180 for dental care and a €3,255 gift for Michael Smurfit bought in a Caribbean liquor shop.