Wednesday 7 December 2016

Fingleton 'presided over culture of fear'

Shane Hickey

Published 02/07/2011 | 05:00

THE disgraced former chief executive of Irish Nationwide, Michael Fingleton, is to answer allegations he presided over extremely lax lending practices at the building society and that staff operated under a culture of fear.

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An employment appeals tribunal (EAT) yesterday agreed to issue a subpoena to compel Mr Fingleton to address a hearing where a former manager has made a series of damning accusations about the management practices there.

Brendan Beggan (48), a former Monaghan inter-county GAA star, said high-profile sports stars were targeted and hired by Nationwide while staff were encouraged by Mr Fingleton to take out loans and invest in property.

Mr Beggan is taking a case of unfair dismissal against Nationwide. He is the partner of whistleblower Olivia Greene, who last year revealed Mr Fingleton fast-tracked loans to Fianna Fail politicians -- including €1.6m for former European Commissioner Charlie McCreevy.

It is understood Mr Beggan, who was dismissed as manager of the Monaghan Nationwide branch in July 2009, has €2m in outstanding loans and mortgages with Nationwide for five properties in Co Monaghan, including his home.

After he was hired in 1996, he said he became part of a tight circle of associates around Mr Fingleton and was close to him until the "end game" of his relationship.

"We were all terrified of the man and what he was capable of. There was a mutual respect," Mr Beggan said.

There was a culture in the building society, encouraged by Mr Fingleton, for staff to borrow money and invest it in property, he said.

There was an extremely lax attitude towards these borrowings, Mr Beggan claimed, and they could be applied for, approved and signed off within the same day.

The tribunal heard that between 1999 and 2007, Mr Beggan had applied for 13 loans and equity releases. By the end of 2007, the payments on the loans he had taken out were more than his monthly salary.

Mr Fingleton was not available at his home in Shankill to comment on the issue of the subpoena, which compels him to appear before the tribunal.

The tribunal will reopen proceedings on September 15 when Mr Fingleton is expected to give evidence.

Irish Independent

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