WITH just weeks to go before the special liquidators of the IBRC sell their mortgages to the highest bidder, one can only wonder what the customers of Irish Nationwide would have to say to its former chief executive Michael Fingleton were they to bump into him on the street.
As chance meetings go, however, it's unlikely to happen any time soon according to the few remaining close friends Mr Fingleton has. "He barely goes outside his front door now. Every day is taken up with making calls and writing letters responding to requests for legal discovery which go back over 30 years," one friend of the former building society boss told the Sunday Independent last week.
"He tries to get away to his apartment in Spain when he can, but the preparation for the High Court case the IBRC's special liquidator is taking has consumed him totally. Only recently, he had to write to a Russian he had met at a soccer match years ago to ask him to confirm the details. Last week, he had to write to a friend to ask him to confirm whether or not they had had dinner on a particular date. The level of detail is incredible," the friend added.
Mr Fingleton is being sued along with several other former Irish Nationwide directors by the IBRC special liquidators for the alleged breach of duty of care and fiduciary duty in relation to how the building society whose collapse has cost the taxpayer €5.4bn was run. Mr Fingleton is also being sued individually for the return of the €1m bonus he received in 2009 prior to his departure from Irish Nationwide.
The former Nationwide chief's effort to defend himself against those actions has been made more difficult according to another of his close friends by the refusal of a well-known senior counsel to represent him.
"If he had murdered someone, it would have been easier to get a barrister to take the case," the friend remarked.
While Mr Fingleton is said to have been disappointed, though unsurprised, by the senior counsel's decision, he has been deeply hurt by the failure of a number of prominent businessmen whom he considered his friends to stay in touch with him.
"There are three developers that I know of who would still call him to ask how he's getting on. The rest of them don't want to know.
"There's one man in particular who was only a 'one house builder' when Michael met him first and decided to back him. He's a big noise now and he hasn't called at all and that really hurts Michael," the same friend said.
Joining those property developers on Mr Fingleton's lengthy list of 'fair weather' friends are a number of the country's leading politicians.
"There are some household names [who] Michael helped to keep life and limb together over the years. Now that he's in trouble, they seem to have disowned him," the friend added.