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Monday 18 December 2017

Fingleton's offshore accounts are probed

Dearbhail McDonald Legal Editor

A WIDE-RANGING probe has been ordered into offshore bank accounts held by disgraced former Irish Nationwide chief Michael Fingleton.

Montenegro's top state prosecutor -- the equivalent of Ireland's DPP -- has sanctioned the investigation after receiving a report from the country's anti-money-laundering unit. A spokesperson for Montenegro's Administration for the Prevention of Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (APMLTF) indicated that this would involve the assistance of foreign banks and police forces.

The special unit, reporting to Montenegro's Supreme State Prosecutor (SSP), investigated the accounts of a company founded by Mr Fingleton in the eastern European country. It raised concerns about a number of cash transfers by Mr Fingleton and an associated company -- in and out of Montenegro between 2006 and 2011. The red flags were raised during a routine inspection completed last December after Mr Fingleton's company, New Fjord Developments, had been placed into bankruptcy.

The company had been set up by Mr Fingleton and a business partner to redevelop a hotel in the Balkan state, but the deal went sour.

The Irish Independent has now learned that the SSP has ordered further investigations based on that report before deciding what action -- if any -- should follow.

Cash transfers at the centre of the investigation include a sum of €500,000 moved by Mr Fingleton to an account in his name at the Atlas Mont Bank in Podgorica, Montenegro, in November 2010.

Most of this was moved weeks later, on January 21, 2011, when Mr Fingleton transferred €480,000 to the London Barclays Bank account of his son, Michael Fingleton Jnr.

Also under scrutiny is €128,498 transferred by Mr Fingleton from a separate, company account in Montenegro to his son's London bank account.

Both transfers occurred shortly after Mr Fingleton had been hit with a €13.6m debt judgment by Ulster Bank over a failed land deal in Co Cavan.

Last night the APMLTF said it had rejected, as "unfounded," objections to its preliminary report raised by Mr Fingleton's Belgrade lawyers.

The spokesperson said the SSP would decide on what further action to take once the additional investigations have been completed.

Mr Fingleton did not respond to queries when contacted by this newspaper. Nor did his Belgrade-based legal team.

Irish Independent

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