Gormley pledges to force €1m Fingleton payback
THE Government will use "any legal means" to force former Irish Nationwide Building Society (INBS) boss Michael Fingleton to hand back his controversial €1m bonus, Environment Minister John Gormley vowed yesterday.
Mr Gormley acknowledged that there was a tidal wave of anger over what had happened within the financial sector.
"My views are very similar to the views I expressed last Monday in relation to Mr (Richie) Boucher (Bank of Ireland boss) -- it sends out the wrong signal," he said.
"It engages people and I know that from speaking to my own constituents. Therefore, there is a moral onus on Mr Fingleton to give this money back," Mr Gormley added.
However, the Green Party leader warned that the Government faced serious legal obstacles over what precise action could be taken to recoup the money in cases like this.
"Any legal means that we can find should be pursued but it is difficult because of property rights and the Constitution that we have," he said.
Mr Fingleton has not repaid the bonus despite initial indications he was willing to do so.
The controversial €1m bonus was awarded just weeks after the Government introduced the emergency bank guarantee scheme in late 2008.
Last week, INBS reported record losses of €2.49bn for 2009 -- and had to write off €2.8bn in loans, almost 25pc of its entire €10.5bn loan book.
Mr Fingleton's successor as INBS boss, Gerry McGinn, described what had happened at the society as "an outrage".
INBS now faces the highest discount of any financial institution under NAMA.
The State's 'bad bank' has assigned a 58pc discount on some of the loans it has taken over from INBS -- underlining the risky property-based lending practices engaged in by the society over the past decade.