Friday 31 October 2014

Liquidators to pursue Fingleton for €1m bonus and €70,000 perks

Published 11/02/2013 | 04:00

Michael Fingleton

LIQUIDATORS appointed to wind-down the Irish Nationwide Building Society will pursue former boss Michael Fingleton for his controversial €1m bonus and more than €70,000 racked up in lavish expenses claims.

New details of the extravagant culture of entitlement in the bank – which has cost taxpayers €5.4bn – have emerged, with tens of thousands of euro racked up in chauffeur bills, fine wines, expensive wedding gifts and rugby tickets.

And Mr Fingleton also billed the society for a €2,700 hotel stay in the five-star Dorchester Hotel, in London, in May 2009, a month after he resigned as managing director.

Refused

But he has refused to repay any of the expenses, saying they were incurred for conducting the bank's business. Mr Fingleton stepped down as managing director from Irish Nationwide when it was in freefall after lending billions of euro to property developers.

He left following months of political pressure to hand back a controversial €1m bonus he received in 2008, shortly after the Irish banking system was saved by the government's bank guarantee.

The society was taken over by the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC). KPMG has been appointed to liquidate IBRC over the next six months, and it is understood it will pursue Mr Fingleton.

No one was available at Mr Fingleton's home yesterday when the Irish Independent sought comment on the revelations.

Details of a lack of lending controls at the bank emerged in a series of previously-unseen documents which were obtained by journalists working on a documentary 'Inside Irish Nationwide' to be broadcast on RTE tonight.

They show that as far back as 2000, consultants employed by the Central Bank had highlighted a lack of controls when lending money. A second 2005 report raised similar concerns, but no action was taken by the Central Bank.

This is despite Irish Nationwide advancing loans totalling €17bn between 2003 and 2007. But it is details of lavish expenses claims and the refusal to return the €1m bonus which will most anger taxpayers.

Expenses incurred by Mr Fingleton included the Dorchester Hotel bill; €14,700 on two dozen bottles of wine; €6,000 for an antique fruit basket as a wedding gift for a developer's daughter; €25,000 for 72 bottles of Cristal champagne; and six rugby season tickets at a cost of €6,600, which he asked the IRFU to send to his home address just prior to his resignation. But in a February 2011 letter to management, he admitted no wrongdoing and refused to repay any money.

He claimed the Dorchester bill was incurred after he travelled to London, with his wife Eileen, to "reassure" clients that the society's new management would be "fully accessible to them".

Dismissing €73,000 of other expenses, he said all expenditure was incurred "for the promotion of the business".

Irish Independent

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