Bowler defends €4.6m paid out to ex-chief
Irish Life & Permanent (IL&P) chairman Gillian Bowler faced down shareholder criticism yesterday of former chief executive Denis Casey's €4.6m payout, saying it was no more than his contractual entitlement.
The package was bolstered by a €2.9m payment into his defined benefit pension pot. Ms Bowler stressed to investors that Mr Casey (50) was not paid the pension figure.
"People taking voluntary and severance pay can take their pension from 55. He isn't entitled to the money -- it goes to the trustees of the pension fund," she said. "When he decides at what age he takes the pension, it'll be actuarially reduced."
Mr Casey announced in February last year that he was stepping down, amid public outrage over the group's controversial €7.45bn deposit placed with Anglo Irish Bank the previous September. The sum served to flatter the now nationalised bank's financial position at the time.
IL&P's then finance director, Peter Fitzpatrick; and its head of treasury, David Gantly; also resigned over the issue.
Mr Casey's pay package included four-and-a-half months' salary, worth €369,000, as well as €1.25m in lieu of notice. When asked by one shareholder if IL&P could ask Mr Casey for the money back, Ms Bowler said: "These are not arbitrary payments. If they had been, there would have been negotiations. They were contractual entitlements.
"I could talk to you for hours about legal opinion on that. We had no choice," she said.
IL&P yesterday became the first publicly quoted financial institution to put its remuneration report to a non-binding shareholder vote. The 'say on pay' poll was passed by a majority of 89.2pc.
Meanwhile, Ms Bowler insisted again that the group's board had never been informed of the Anglo deposit, but added she was restricted in what she could say on the issue as it was the "subject of a very active garda investigation."
"If you asked me why the board didn't know, I'd be putting an inquiry into jeopardy. I can tell you it is extremely active," she said.