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Monday 1 September 2014

Tubbercurry man Fingleton is in the liquidators' sights

Published 12/02/2013 | 09:58

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LIQUIDATORS appointed to Irish Nationwide Building Society are set to pursue former boss Michael Fingleton for his controversial €1m bonus.

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They will also seek more than €70,000 racked up in expenses claims.

Tubbercurry-born Fingleton angered the nation when he refused to return the bonus paid in November 2008. This was shortly after the Irish banking system was saved by the government's bank guarantee. He promised to return the money but never did.

In August 2010, INBS required a €5.4bn bailout to stay afloat. The society was run by Fingleton until 2009.

An RTÉ documentary last night said that Fingleton claimed he did a deal with the Government on the bonus.

In September 2011 he wrote to the chief executive of IRBC, which had taken over Nationwide, stating his reasons for keeping it. He said: "I never had any legal obligation to repay any of the funds received. Because of the Government's breach of my agreement with them I have no obligation either now or in the future to do so."

Fingleton attended the national school in Tubbercurry before going to St Nathy's in Ballaghaderreen.

A former classmate this week recalled how Fingleton was a popular student who was good at languages.

He had a keen interest in GAA and was part of the Tubbercurry 1957 senior championship-winning team.

After school he went to All Hallows to study for the priesthood but he left before taking vows. He later studied at UCD, Trinity College and the King's Inns.

The former classmate recalled: "While he hasn't been in Tubbercurry for some years now he never forgot his Sligo roots. He was particularly helpful to those from the county who sought loans from Irish Nationwide.

"In many cases people had been turned away from other banks but Michael was very good to Sligo people."

New details of the extravagant culture of entitlement at Irish Nationwide have also emerged.

Thousands of euro was racked up in chauffeur bills, fine wines, expensive wedding gifts and rugby tickets.

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

Other expenses incurred by Mr Fingleton included €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.

In a February 2011 letter to management, he admitted no wrongdoing.

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 Nationwide advanced loans totalling €17bn between 2003 and 2007. It 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 Fingleton.

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