herald

Thursday 21 September 2017

Fingleton shifted €500k funds after €13m debts order

FORMER Irish Nationwide chief executive Michael Fingleton transferred €500,000 to an offshore bank account just days after he was hit with a €13.6m debt order by Ulster Bank.

Mr Fingleton moved the €500,000 to an account in his name at the Atlas Mont Bank in Podgorica, Montenegro, in November 2010.

This account was emptied weeks later, on January 21, 2011, when Mr Fingleton transferred €480,000 to the London Barclay's Bank account of his son, Michael Fingleton Jnr.

On the same day, Mr Fingleton transferred another €128,498 from a separate account in Montenegro to his son's London bank account.

This second tranche of money was transferred out of New Fjord Developments (NFD) company founded in 2006 by Mr Fingleton and Irish developer Louis Maguire to turn a dilapidated hotel in the former Eastern European country into a lavish resort.

The movement of the €608,498 to Mr Fingleton's son was uncovered by inspectors from Montenegro's Authority for the Prevention of Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (AML) during a routine inspection after NFD was forced into bankruptcy.

Mr Fingleton has been at the centre of controversy over his €27m pension pot and his refusal to hand back a €1m bonus paid to him by Irish Nationwide. Mr Fingleton ploughed €5.5m of his own personal funds into the planned €95m development of the landmark Hotel Kotor Fjord in 2006.

But the accounts of the company behind the ill-fated project have now been frozen.

Before he transferred the massive cash sums to his son, the former building society boss -- who earned a €2.4m-a-year salary before his retirement in April 2009 -- claimed in a letter to Ulster Bank that he had cash deposits of just €1m.

The AML investigation of NFD's company accounts took place on December 23 when the AML -- the equivalent of Ireland's Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation -- discovered the cash movements.

The report reveals that on November 5, 2010, €500,000 was transferred from Ireland into Mr Fingleton's private account in Podgorica.







Transfer

This was just four days after Mr Justice Peter Kelly ordered Mr Fingleton to repay €13.6m to Ulster Bank, on foot of a failed land deal in Co Cavan, following a case at the Commercial Court.

Last night Mr Maguire, who was removed as an authorised signatory on the New Fjord account in November 2008, said he had no knowledge of the €128,498 transfer until the AML inspectors looked at its accounts. Mr Maguire said he was co-operating with the authorities in Montenegro and would continue to do so.

fdillon@herald.ie

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