AIB bank manager appeals sacking over $60m loan letter
A BANK manager who was fired after it emerged that he had written a letter sanctioning a $60m (€45m) loan in principle to a company of which he was joint owner has taken a case to the Equality Appeals Tribunal, appealing his dismissal.
Declan Maher, from Clifden, Co Galway, is claiming unfair dismissal and seeking compensation from AIB after his position was terminated in 2011. It followed an internal investigation into the letter he wrote, committing the funds to BMB Partnership in 2005.
BMB Partnership was a joint venture between Mr Maher and Galway accountant Kevin Barry.
In the letter, dated April 21, 2005, Mr Maher claimed that AIB was "agreeable in principle" to advance $60m to BMB Partnership to complete the purchase of 100 villas in Florida.
The tribunal heard that no official application was ever made and no loan was ever issued in the matter.
The letter sent by Mr Maher to Mr Barry on April 21 was read to the tribunal.
"I refer to your recent application on behalf of BMB Partnership to borrow $60m to complete the purchase of 100 villas (known as Gables on the Green) in Orlando, Florida.
"I understand that these monies will not be required until the villas are fully completed, which date is estimated to be in approximately 12 months.
"Based on the data submitted, I can confirm we are agreeable in principle to advance these funds to your group, subject to the following . . ." The letter went on to include five detailed conditions.
However, an internal investigation could find no paper trail for any loan application or data submitted by BMB Partnership.
Mr Maher denied that the letter amounted to a loan sanction in principle, insisting that it was a marketing letter to attract new businesses to the bank. This claim was dismissed by former bank official Gerry Griffin, who pointed out that Mr Maher was effectively writing to himself.
Pat Leahy, head of credit sanctioning with AIB, said he regarded the letter, dated April 21, as being a letter of sanction in principle.
The case continues.