Monday 5 December 2016

Fingleton gave Lowry IR£200,000 home loan

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

Published 24/03/2011 | 05:00

FORMER Irish Nationwide boss Michael Fingleton met Michael Lowry and "within a matter of days" gave him a IR£200,000 loan for a controversial property purchase.

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According to the report of the Moriarty Tribunal, Mr Fingleton gave Mr Lowry 100pc finance for the purchase of a house in Carysfort Avenue in Blackrock, Dublin, after their meeting. Mr Lowry bought it as a second home in 1996.

The tribunal also found that a subsidiary of Irish Nationwide in the Isle of Man provided an offshore bank account to Mr Lowry -- who later publicly denied in the Dail that he had any offshore bank accounts.

Mr Fingleton stepped down as managing director of Irish Nationwide in 2009 after more than 30 years in charge. But he has still not repaid a €1m bonus that he received shortly before leaving.

The building society has so far cost the taxpayer €5.4bn and is now in the process of being wound down.

The report of the tribunal said Mr Fingleton had known Mr Lowry socially as far back as the 1980s, primarily due to GAA activities.

Mr Fingleton said he received a telephone call from Mr Lowry at the end of August 1996 to discuss a property purchase and they met the following day.

Mr Lowry told him that he needed IR£200,000 to buy the Carysfort Avenue house. Mr Fingleton then approved the granting of the loan, saying it was within his authority and on commercial terms.

Offshore

Mr Fingleton took down a handwritten note during the meeting, recording Mr Lowry's position as a government minister, his salary of IR£65,000, his annual company income of IR£20,000 and the value of his Tipperary properties.

He then wrote to his advances manager telling him to deal with the matter "as a priority".

Mr Lowry received the IR£200,000 loan on September 4, 1996, which, said the report, was "within a matter of days" of the meeting with Mr Fingleton.

In its report, the tribunal also investigated the subsidiary of Irish Nationwide in the Isle of Man, which provided an offshore bank account to Mr Lowry.

The Tipperary North TD gave the address of a Dublin accountancy firm in Foxrock as his contact for that account. But he later admitted that he had never sought the consent of the firm before doing this.

When the tribunal sought to call as a witness Karl Tully, the Isle of Man-based official who set up the account for Mr Lowry as a witness, he refused to give evidence.

Mr Fingleton said there was nothing he could do about this -- even though he was a member of the board of the Isle of Man bank.

He said the building society had made its wishes for full co-operation known to the board.

The tribunal said this was "reprehensible" and that Mr Fingleton had "not readily or satisfactorily explained" why Irish Nationwide's fully owned subsidiary had not complied with the tribunal's request for Mr Tully to attend.

Irish Independent

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