Thursday 22 March 2018

Fingleton faces losing pension if €13.6m bank debt isn't repaid

Emmet Oliver and Tim Healy

Michael Fingleton's €27m pension pot and extensive property portfolio could be seized unless he comes up with €13.6m he owes Ulster Bank over a land deal he was involved in.

Details of Mr Fingleton's assets were laid bare for the first time yesterday as Mr Justice Peter Kelly entered a judgment against the former Irish Nationwide boss for €13.6m, covering loans owed to Ulster Bank.

The judge described as "extraordinary" a failure by Mr Fingleton to include his pension in his assets and liabilities.

While Mr Fingleton has extensive assets, if they are not enough to clear all the debts then Ulster Bank could seek to liquidate his pension, which is one of the largest ever assembled in Irish business.

There is a precedent for such a move: in April, leading businessman Brendan Murtagh had a receiver appointed to his approved retirement fund (ARF).

Mr Justice Kelly was speaking before he entered summary judgment for €13.6m against Mr Fingleton.

He also made judgment orders for around €12m against a Fianna Fail senator and two developers over the same loans.


Mr Justice Kelly yesterday said Mr Fingleton's pension "eclipsed" all his other assets which totalled more than €10m and included properties in Dublin, Mayo, Donegal and Wicklow.

Rossa Fanning, for Mr Fingleton, described as a "genuine error" the failure to include reference to the pension in the statement of affairs of March last. There was no intention to mislead, he said.

Mr Fanning did not oppose the summary judgment application but raised issues about defects in the bank's documents and the manner in which it granted the loan facility. The bank appeared to have relied on its perception of Mr Fingleton's worth from media reports, he added.

Brian McGuckian, for the bank, earlier said it became concerned about the loans after receiving a statement of affairs from Mr Fingleton which contained no reference to his pension. The bank was also concerned at an assignment of Mr Fingleton's interest in his family home (valued at €3m) at Liskillen, Shankill, Co Dublin, to his wife.

Mr Justice Kelly also granted summary judgment yesterday for €12m over the same loans against Fianna Fail senator Francis O'Brien, of Corwillan, Latto, Castleblayney, and two Co Monaghan property developers, Noel Mulligan, of Moyles, Castleshane, and Charles McGuinness, of Tully House, Monaghan. He noted a statement of affairs for Mr O'Brien showed a deficit of some €12.8m liabilities over assets.

The three had not advanced a defence to the €12m but disputed how the remaining €1.6m was arrived at and their liability for that will be decided later.

Meanwhile, the court heard negotiations between Mr Fingleton and the bank have continued for some time.

Mr McGuckian said while interest repayments were made, a number of events had triggered its decision to demand repayment, including net worth statements received from the defendants last March.

Counsel agreed Mr Fingleton was not a client of the bank's when the monies were loaned and it had not sought net worth statements from the four until some years after the loan issued.

Mr Justice Kelly said he was not required to address the bank's "stupidity" entering into such a large loan with someone about whom it knew nothing except that his name appeared regularly in the newspapers.

Irish Independent

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