Friday 23 March 2018

Bank fears Fingleton's €88,000 expense bill just tip of iceberg

Disgraced banker claimed €48,000 for K Club fees and €12,000 for dental work after he left the building society

Former chief executive of the failed Irish Nationwide Building Society Michael Fingleton in his car in Blackrock, Dublin,
Former chief executive of the failed Irish Nationwide Building Society Michael Fingleton in his car in Blackrock, Dublin, yesterday

Laura Noonan, Breda Heffernan and Michael Brennan

THE €88,000 of "inappropriate" expense claims made by disgraced Irish Nationwide boss Michael Fingleton is just part of a wider batch of "equally suspect" claims the disgraced banker is being asked to explain.

Sources last night confirmed that Anglo Irish Bank was calling on Mr Fingleton to explain "tens of thousands" of other claims -- in addition to the €88,000 worth of claims that Anglo has already queried.

The original tally includes €48,000 in fees to the K Club, a €12,180 bill for dental work at the upmarket Blackrock Clinic and £2,373 (€2,762) for a stay at a five-star London hotel after Mr Fingleton had left the building society.

It is understood that the other "suspect" claims are of a similarly "interesting" nature and relate to the same 2005 to 2009 period as the €88,000 of expenses Anglo initially queried.

Sources also confirmed that Anglo had made it clear to Mr Fingleton that the bank was "very serious" about using all means open to it to secure repayment of the loans.

If Mr Fingleton refuses to reimburse the cash, Anglo will move swiftly to consult its lawyers about ways to compel repayment.

The bank believes it is on "firmer" legal ground than the failed quest to get Mr Fingleton to repay the €1m bonus he was controversially paid towards the end of his tenure.

While his stewardship at Nationwide culminated in a €5.4bn bailout from the taxpayer, Mr Fingleton was contractually entitled to the bonus and cannot be legally forced to repay it.

Speaking in Warsaw, Taoiseach Enda Kenny yesterday led calls for Mr Fingleton to return the expenses cash, saying he detects a real sense of anger in people that the "carry-on" of some elements of banking over recent years has impacted severely on people's lifestyles and on their quality of life.

"They would like to see that if there are people out there that are guilty, they should be brought before the courts and if the courts decide to punish them, that the law of the land take its course.

"People don't want to see these things drag on interminably, and I hope that the statutory authorities charged with following these things up continue to do so as expeditiously as is possible," he said.

At home, Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton denounced the expenses as "totally inappropriate", while Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore said the long-suffering public was entitled to see "restitution from those who abused expenses". A Labour councillor from Finglas, Steve Wrenn, last night said he had written to gardai asking them to have the fraud squad investigate the expenses.

Mr Fingleton failed to return calls to his mobile phone yesterday and led reporters on a merry dance around south Dublin.

Mr Fingleton was spotted leaving his luxury home in Shankill in a navy Jaguar at around 10.20am yesterday.

He exited the secluded laneway leading to his house and turned left but shortly after did a U-turn in a nearby residential area and back-tracked passing by his home in the direction of the city centre.


Mr Fingleton then passed through Ballybrack and Deansgrange and headed into Blackrock.

However, after turning right into Blackrock village he immediately doubled back on himself outside Maxwell Motors and was photographed while stopped at traffic lights at the junction of Temple Road and Temple Hill.

The former chief executive was wearing his customary flat-cap and also sported designer sunglasses and seemed none too pleased to find himself in the public spotlight once again.

When the Irish Independent called to his home later, there was no answer from the intercom.

Mr Fingleton has previously told Anglo that certain expenses were for the promotion of the building society's relationships with customers.

Irish Independent

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