Monday 22 April 2019

Bid to disqualify former NIB manager rejected

Kevin Curran: did not have authority to bring an end to improper practices.</b></i>
Kevin Curran: did not have authority to bring an end to improper practices.

Ann O'Loughlin

THE High Court has refused an application by the Director of Corporate Enforcement to disqualify a retired National Irish Bank regional manager from involvement in the management of any company on grounds of unfitness.

Mr Justice Roderick Murphy ruled yesterday that, in all the circumstances of his case and in light of legal decisions, it would be "inappropriate" to make a disqualification order against Kevin Curran (61), of Blackrock, Co Dublin.

The judge said he would uphold "in broad terms' the findings of the inspectors into the affairs of NIB, on foot of which the disqualification order was sought. However, he was satisfied there was no finding against Mr Curran in relation to the "commission" of any of a number of improper practices within the bank and nor did the "omissions" of Mr Curran justify a disqualification order.

While the court "might have expected a more assiduous approach to compliance", particularly when Mr Curran became head of retail with NIB, it appeared he did not have the authority to bring about a cessation of certain improper practices at the bank, the judge found.

There was "dilatory and ultimately ineffectual intervention" by Mr Curran about tackling various practices, such as improper charging of fees to accounts, but he did not appear to have a line of communication to the audit committee or the board of directors.

The judge noted that Mr Curran, who now works three days a week in risk management, had given evidence that a disqualification order would bring his working career to an abrupt end "given that the basic currency in banking was honesty and integrity".

The disqualification application is one of nine brought by the Director of Corporate Enforcement against various NIB executives based on the findings of a 2004 investigation into the tax evasion scandal of the 1990s in NIB.

The investigators made serious findings of improper practices in NIB which had the effect of facilitating tax evasion and the levying of unwarranted fees and interest charges.

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