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Bank boss -- I couldn't understand my €2m loan

A CLAIM by a bank's head of Development Finance that she signed a property loan without understanding its terms is "incredible", a judge said.

Mr Justice Peter Kelly made his comments as he granted a summary judgment order for €2.3m against Ms Martha Widger, head of development finance with Educational Building Society. Ms Widger must repay the property loan to Friends First Finance Ltd.

"If the head of Development Finance with EBS could not understand such a simple loan, then nobody could," said Mr Justice Kelly.


Ms Widger was head of Development Finance at EBS when she took out the loan with Friends First in 2008, and was on an annual salary of about €200,000.

She had argued she was entitled to a full hearing of her case on grounds that she had didn't fully understand the terms of the loan. She said she was induced to enter it following representations by Evan Duggan, with whom she was in a personal relationship and who provided a personal guarantee over the loan.

However, Hugh O'Keeffe for Friends First said that there was no allegation Ms Widger was induced to enter into a loan to buy a property for less than the then market price and no claim of misrepresentation was being made against the bank.

Mr Justice Kelly found that Ms Widger was the sole borrower and had signed and executed the loan agreement and the terms of the loan were clear. She had also received legal and accountancy advice.

The judge noted that the loan was secured by a first legal charge over the property at Heytesbury Lane, Dublin, and a personal guarantee of Mr Duggan. Certificates signed by Mr Duggan were also provided from Duggan & Co planning associates.

The judge said Ms Widger's claim that she was persuaded to enter into the loan without fully understanding it was difficult to understand. Mr Duggan initially approached Friends First for the loan and secured approval for it.

Mr Duggan and Ms Widger then made a further approach and the bank was told she would take out the loan because she would get first-time buyers' tax relief.