Lenihan to pursue Fingleton bonus talks
FINANCE Minister Brian Lenihan yesterday said he would re-open discussions with the board of Irish Nationwide to claw back a €1m bonus given to its former chief Michael Fingleton, writes Patricia McDonagh.
Mr Lenihan said legal advice obtained by the board had indicated the controversial payment could not be refunded as it was part of Mr Fingleton's contract.
However, he pointed out this legal opinion was received before he took a shareholding in the building society, and he would re-open the matter with the board.
Mr Fingleton resigned as chief executive in April last year after it emerged he had received the €1m bonus just weeks after the Government introduced the state guarantee scheme. The State has since provided €2.6bn to keep Irish Nationwide afloat after its toxic property loans were taken over by the National Asset Management Agency.
Speaking in the Dail, Fine Gael TD Kieran O'Donnell pointed out the minister had put €100m of taxpayers' money into the building society through special investment shares.
And he queried if, in light of this, he had written to its board requesting it pursued the retrieval of the bonus through legal means.
"Yes, I have. The board received legal advice that it was not permitted to request a refund," Mr Lenihan said. "If the deputy, however, wishes me to re-open the matter with the board, I am prepared to do so."
Mr O'Donnell insisted the minister should do so as a matter of urgency.