Tuesday 24 April 2018

No bonus, so worker checked colleagues' accounts

Ailish O'Hora

A BANK worker who accessed colleagues' bank accounts told an Employment Appeals Tribunal yesterday he had never been warned such conduct could lead to his dismissal.

But Brian Purcell (39), who checked the accounts of 13 fellow workers when he realised he hadn't been paid a bonus, admitted he knew what he was doing was "wrong" and that it breached confidentiality.

He accessed the accounts over a four-day period back in March 2008 and discovered many of his colleagues had been paid the performance-related bonus. "Of course I did know it was wrong," he said.

Mr Purcell admitted he had had online training at the bank which included guidelines on the privacy of accounts but he claimed this was inadequate.

Mr Purcell, from Dublin, was dismissed by AIB last year after it discovered he accessed the accounts while working in the capital markets division of the bank.

He denied that he blew the whistle in 2008 about irregularities in accounting systems as "payback" for the non-payment of the bonus.

Mr Purcell explained that he discovered a $16,000 (e12,100) overpayment of interest had been used to "cover-up" errors in the division although since then the bank has introduced new practices.

His decision to highlight the accountancy errors to a risk manager also came just a day after Mr Purcell was told he was the subject of a negative performance review, the tribunal had earlier heard.

Patrick Hanratty, counsel for AIB, said yesterday that Mr Purcell had a history of poor performance reviews at the bank, noting his relationship with his manager Tim Downey had broken down.

But Mr Purcell's counsel, Michael Forde, said his client was only supposed to be on temporary secondment to Mr Downey's department and had made it clear that he was finding it difficult to work with the latter.

The tribunal continues today.

Irish Independent

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