Sunday 21 December 2014

Socialite plans action against Nationwide over €2m loan

Cindy Caffola used the money to buy K Club home – and may quiz Fingleton in court

Tom Lyons

Published 02/12/2012 | 05:00

Cindy Caffola, a businesswoman and socialite, is considering a blockbuster lawsuit against Irish Nationwide, which wants her to repay a €2m loan given to her to buy a luxury home in the K Club.



The former model, who bought a property in the K Club just prior to the Ryder Cup, has been in talks with the society since 2007 about her outstanding debts. She is likely to call on Michael Fingleton, the former boss of INBS, to explain how the society loaned her millions to buy the K Club property as part of a claim against the society that it granted her the loan without taking proper precautions.

Fingleton has until today avoided being quizzed publicly by a borrower about how he conducted himself when lending to Ireland's boom-time celebrities, business people and sports stars.

The building society boss, who now spends part of the year on holidays abroad, is expected to vigorously dispute any allegation that he acted unusually or recklessly when granting this loan.

In 2011, he told an Employment Appeals Tribunal taken by a former member of staff that it was an "absolute slander" to claim he ran the society as a "personal bank". It is believed that Caffola, however, is considering arguing that the society loaned her €2m at a time it knew this was a vast multiple of her income.

It is understood that the loan was interest-only for part of its initial duration. The former Miss Ireland is understood to have dealt directly with Fingleton and these dealings are likely to feature in any legal proceedings.

At the time of the loan in 2006, Caffola believed she was due to earn a windfall from the sale of her 55 per cent stake in her home on Torquay Road in Foxrock, which would help her pay off a big chunk of her K Club loan.

However, the multi-million sale price for this property never materialised as expected because of the property crash. Gallagher Shatter, Caffola's solicitors, wrote in November 2007 to the society stating it would give the society the proceeds from this sale if and when Torquay Road was sold and after a bridging facility of €285,000 from Anglo Irish Bank was also repaid. Caffola has placed her K Club home in the exclusive Ladycastle Estate in the K Club on the market for €750,000. Estate agent Arthur French sold her the property.

Other residents of the estate include Charlie McCreevy, the former Minister of Finance. Caffola did not respond to requests for comment.

Prior to relocating to Dubai in recent years, Caffola was a regular on Dublin's social scene and regularly appeared in the media. In 2007, she was named the winner of Ireland's Sexiest Legs beating off competition from former Miss World Rosanna Davison.

The implosion of Irish Nationwide has cost the taxpayer €5.4bn and the manner in which it conducted its business is the subject of ongoing examination by the Central Bank.

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