Friday 23 June 2017

Fingleton junior goes in clearout of former top brass

Son of former boss caused major row during bank crisis

Joe Brennan

Michael Fingleton Jnr, son of the controversial former Irish Nationwide boss, is quitting the building society as its new management completes a clean-out of the top brass of the beleaguered lender, the Irish Independent has learned.

It emerged as the stressed society unveiled a €2.5bn pre-tax loss yesterday, giving reason to the Government's recent commitment to bail it out to the tune of €2.7bn.

In recent weeks, the new chief executive Gerry McGinn has parted company with Nationwide's long-standing former finance chief, John 'Stan' Purcell. He had been with the mutual for 24 years.

The society beefed up its finance unit last year when John McGloughlin, previously an executive with Citibank and Arthur Andersen, was parachuted in as chief financial officer.

The society's head of commercial lending Tom McMenamin left last November and was replaced by former Ulster Bank figure Declan Buckley. It also hired Valerie Mulhall, a former figure in State Street and Barclays in Ireland, to man its 50-strong NAMA unit.

The society suspended the head of its UK operations earlier this year as a result of lending practices uncovered by the new management team.

Gary McCollum had been working out of the society's Belfast office, and oversaw the group's €4.4bn UK loan portfolio with Michael Fingleton Jnr, who operates out of London.

Mr Fingleton Jnr, who is leaving early next month, hit the headlines days after the Government brought in the banking guarantee in September 2008, as he sent an email to a friend in London financial circles soliciting deposits -- igniting the ire of the UK government.

The email said Irish Nationwide represented the "safest place to deposit money in Europe with an AAA guarantee from a country with the lowest national debt to GDP ration of any AAA country".

It added: "Please be so kind as to pass on to friends, colleagues and clients as you see fit."

Apology

The society was forced to issue a humiliating apology. The debacle caused political uproar in the UK, where officials were still incandescent about Ireland slapping down the guarantee without warning other European leaders.

Taxpayers will have to pump €2.7bn into the society, after NAMA takes over 80pc of its loan book.

It faced the deepest discount -- at 58pc -- applied by NAMA to the first batch of loans it has taken control of.

The once lowly mortgage lender had transformed itself into the lender of choice to some of the country's biggest property developers during the decade-long property boom.

Mr McGinn said yesterday that the "unprecedented" €2.8bn loan loss charge Irish Nationwide took last year reflects "the nature of the society's loan portfolio, economic and market conditions and, in particular, the impact of the lending policies and practices of previous management."

Irish Independent

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