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Saturday 30 August 2014

Fingleton son landlord of €14m former Dunne office

Cormac McQuinn

Published 22/04/2013 | 05:00

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Michael Fingleton junior
Michael Fingleton
Sean Dunne

THE SON of disgraced Irish Nationwide boss, Michael Fingleton, is the landlord of a £12m (€14m) office block in England once owned by bust developer Sean Dunne.

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Michael Fingleton Jnr (31) is the sole director of a London-based company, Hibernian Capital, that has leased the premises in Surrey to car manufacturer Kia Motors for the next 15 years.

Mr Dunne, who last month filed for bankruptcy in the United States, originally brought the property, PGS Court in Waltham on Thames, in 1999 for £9.3m.

It was on the market in recent years for £10m, but it is understood that he was forced to sell in January last year for half that sum by creditors Bank of Scotland and Bank of Ireland.

An Isle of Man-based company, Kulio (IOM), is listed as the owner of the building, which is reported to be back on the market for £12.3m.

However, Mr Fingleton's Hibernian Capital has been described as the landlord of the property, and his name appears on planning application documents lodged with Elmbridge Borough Council.

Mr Fingleton Jnr, himself a former manager at Irish Nationwide Building Society, is listed as the contact of Kulio Asset Management Ltd for an application involving a three-storey office building at the rear of the PGS Court site.

Transfer

Last year, the Irish Independent revealed that Mr Fingleton Snr transferred a total of €608,498 to his son's London bank account from two accounts in Montenegro.

Just weeks earlier, the 74-year-old former building society boss had transferred €500,000 to an offshore account in the Eastern European country, days after he was hit with a €13.6m debt order by Ulster Bank.

Speaking to a Sunday newspaper, he denied having any role in the PGS Court transaction "financially or otherwise".

Mr Fingleton Snr has been accused of acting like a sole proprietor in his decades-long tenure at Irish Nationwide, an allegation he denies.

He resigned as chairman after the building society was bailed out by the government.

Irish Nationwide was later merged with Anglo Irish Bank to form the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC), which is now in liquidation. The building society was among a number of financial institutions that loaned sums to Mr Dunne from the 1990s onwards.

Mr Fingleton was a guest at the developer's wedding to Gayle Killilea on board the Christina O yacht in the Mediterranean in 2004.

Mr Fingleton Jnr established Hibernian Capital in July 2010, and is described as an "investor" in company filings.

The company's website, which still lists an old office address, states that Hibernian Capital is a "a privately held real estate investment and advisory firm".

The website quotes property tycoon Donald Trump as saying: "Real estate is at the core of almost every business, and it's certainly at the core of most people's wealth."

The website boasts that "Hibernian Capital has significant funding available to deploy".

In February, international property company Savills heralded the deal between Hibernian Capital and Kia Motors.

It announced: "On behalf of Kia Motors (UK) Limited, Savills has agreed terms to lease the entire office space at Walton Green, Walton-on-Thames in its entirety from landlord Hibernian Capital."

It said the move to the new headquarters would allow Kia "to continue its remarkable expansion" in Britain.

Hibernian Capital was represented in the deal by estate agents Quinton Scott.

A partner at the firm, John King, told a Sunday newspaper that it was Mr Fingleton Jnr who instructed him to negotiate on behalf of the company, and agreed that it was accurate to describe the businessman as the landlord.

A director of Savills, Tom Mellows, is quoted as confirming his company had been instructed to sell the building.

He refused to comment when contacted by the Irish Independent last night and did not respond when asked about the sum of £12.3m being reported as the asking price for the Surrey property.

Attempts to contact Mr Fingleton Jnr were unsuccessful.

Irish Independent

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