Monday 22 July 2019

Central Bank inquiry 'unfair' due to my age and ill health, says Fingleton

Former Irish Nationwide chief executive Michael Fingleton. Photo: Gareth Chaney
Former Irish Nationwide chief executive Michael Fingleton. Photo: Gareth Chaney

Sean Duffy

Former Irish Nationwide chief executive Michael Fingleton has attempted to halt a Central Bank inquiry into the lender between 2004 and 2008.

Mr Fingleton told the opening day of the inquiry into practices at Irish Nationwide Building Society (INBS) that the case against him should not proceed, because he is currently appealing a High Court judgment. The appeal is due to be heard in June next year.

He also revealed that the Irish Banking Resolution Corporation (IBRC) is currently pursuing a case against him for the recovery of €6m.

The former Nationwide boss, who is aged 77, said he would have difficulty in dealing with both legal cases simultaneously.

He added that the Central Bank's allegations against him were "unfair and disproportionate" given his age and the state of his health.

But counsel for the Central Bank's Enforcement Team, Remy Farrell, said Mr Fingleton had provided no evidence about his health.

Mr Fingleton, who represented himself, told the chair of the inquiry, Marian Shanley, that the motivation for pursuing him was political and the original "political imperative" for the inquiry no longer existed.

Mr Fingleton also said that "defamatory" allegations had been made against him during 21 interviews conducted between himself and the regulator, adding that he would "challenge every single one".

Irish Nationwide was nationalised in 2010 when it received a bailout of €5.4bn as part of the banking guarantee.

The lender was fined €5m in 2015, but the fine went unpaid because it was defunct by that time.

Mr Fingleton and four other executives - William Garfield McCollum, Tom McMenamin, Stan Purcell and Michael Walsh - are being investigated by the regulator for possible breaches of risk management and commercial lending guidelines set out in Irish Company law. The executives are under investigation for seven "suspected prescribed contraventions" in total.

Representatives of Mr McCollum and Mr McMenamin were not present yesterday, but the inquiry heard that both had been served with notice of proceedings prior to the hearing.

The inquiry will examine 110,000 documents relating to the period in question.

Proceedings had been scheduled to run for 45 days, but given the volume of material under examination, it was stated that the inquiry was likely to run for longer. A separate motion to have the inquiry terminated is due to be heard on December 13.

Mr Fingleton, Mr Walsh and Mr McMenamin have denied the charges against them, while Mr McCollum and Mr Purcell made no admissions.

Irish Independent

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