Thursday 23 March 2017

Banker 'blew whistle' as payback for bonus snub

Ailish O'Hora

Ailish O'Hora

AN AIB worker blew the whistle on alleged accounting irregularities at the bank as "payback" for the non-payment of a bonus, an employment tribunal heard yesterday.

AIB manager Tim Downey told the tribunal that the whistle-blower, Brian Purcell (38), had also made financial errors and had required close management at a time when other employees in his section received a performance-related bonus.

"You wouldn't have to be a member of Mensa to know Mr Purcell was the whistle-blower," he told the Employment Appeals Tribunal yesterday.

Mr Purcell, who had worked in the capital markets division, claims he was unfairly dismissed by the bank after revealing information about irregularities through a whistle-blower's charter.

A subsequent internal investigation by the AIB found no impropriety.

The tribunal earlier heard AIB took the disciplinary measures against Mr Purcell after it discovered he had "systematically and deliberately" accessed 16 private bank accounts, mainly those of his colleagues, to see if they had been paid the bonus.

The decision not to pay the bonus was signed off by the bank following a recommendation by Mr Downey, he confirmed yesterday.

Mr Purcell's counsel added that earlier assessments of his client's work by another manager had been positive.

Breakdown

The hearing also heard of a breakdown in the relationship between Mr Downey and Mr Purcell after dozens of emails and meetings over the latter's performance.

Following the negative performance review, the AIB's group general manager for regulatory and operation risk, Philip Brennan, found an envelope on his desk on February 15, 2008, from Mr Purcell, in which he complained about amendments made to the accounting systems at the bank.

Mr Purcell's complaint related to the reconciliation of accounts in the unit where he worked and he was concerned that "inappropriate practices" were being used.

He claimed that a sum of more than €100,000 was involved, that a process had been gone through to write it off and that his line manager was responsible.

New practices have been introduced following the internal investigation by AIB but the investigation found there was no evidence that processes were used for improper purposes.

The hearing has been adjourned until December 20.

Irish Independent

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