Wednesday 23 May 2018

Ex-Irish Nationwide chief Fingleton loses appeal over Central Bank inquiry

Michael Fingleton
Michael Fingleton

Tim Healy

Former Irish Nationwide Building Society chief executive Michael Fingleton has lost his appeal arguing he cannot lawfully be subject to a Central Bank inquiry into alleged regulatory breaches at the lender.

The three judges of the Court of Appeal dismissed all grounds of Mr Fingleton's appeal against the High Court's rejection of his challenge concerning the inquiry.

Ms Justice Mary Finlay Geoghegan and Ms Justice Mary Irvine gave separate judgments dealing with different grounds of appeal and dismissed all of them, including claims of objective bias on the part of the Central Bank, that it lacked jurisdiction or had delayed.

The judges also rejected claims that his entitlement to a fair hearing was prejudiced by the Central Bank's publication of details of a settlement agreed with the society itself over the bank's inquiry.

Mr Justice Michael Peart agreed with his colleagues. Mr Fingleton, now in his late 70s, was not in court for the delivery of judgment.

His core argument in his appeal was that he had retired before the inquiry was formally initiated in 2015 and the relevant law does not allow for inquiry into his "past" conduct of the society's affairs.

Lawyers for the Central Bank had rejected that argument as "nonsense".

The Central Bank estimates the collapse of INBS - which was nationalised and merged with the former Anglo Irish Bank in 2011 - has cost the Irish public some €5.4bn.

That figure is disputed by Mr Fingleton, who joined INBS in 1971 and retired as CEO in 2009.

The inquiry was initiated into allegations that certain prescribed contraventions were committed by both INBS, and certain persons "concerned with" its management, between August 2004 and September 2008.

If the allegations are upheld, the relevant law allows for imposition of sanctions of up to €5m on a regulated firm and up to €500,000 on individuals.

Irish Independent

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