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Sunday 4 December 2016

Michael Fingleton: 'I regret I'm continuing to pay the price personally for banking collapse'

Michael Fingleton, former Chief Executive of the Irish Nationwide Building Society arriving at the Banking Inquiry at Leinster House yesterday.Pic Tom Burke b2/9/2015
Michael Fingleton, former Chief Executive of the Irish Nationwide Building Society arriving at the Banking Inquiry at Leinster House yesterday.Pic Tom Burke b2/9/2015

Former Irish Nationwide chief executive Michael Fingleton said he very much regretted that he was “continuing to pay the price personally” for the collapse of the whole financial market.

He also told the Oireachtas Banking Inquiry today that he regretted that the taxpayer had to pick up the bill.

Mr Fingleton did not accept “there were poor lending practices” at INBS which was eventually the subject of a €5.4bn bailout by the state.

He justified his €27m pension pot on the grounds that he had taken over the management of his own pension fund in the early 1990s and had himself, through investment, increased the fund almost tenfold.

EXPERTS

He said it had cost the Society about €3m by his own estimation or €4m if the view of some experts was to be taken.

He had taken over the management of the fund because when he looked at it, the value that had accrued at the time was lower than the lowest deposit account rate operated by the Society. His bonuses were decided by a committee at the society he said.

The former building society chief executive accused AIB and Bank of Ireland of “opportunism” in trying to have Irish Nationwide nationalised on the night of the Bank Guarantee.

He also said that his building society was solvent that night with a liquidity ratio “well in excess of the minimum requirements of the Regulator”.

Mr Fingleton said there was “no basis or evidence” by the pillar banks on which to push for the nationalisation of INBS.

“The motivation of the pillar banks in my view was competitive opportunism to eliminate a highly competitive deposit interest institution,” he said.

He believed the lending strategies and risk strategies of INBS were “appropriate for the lending market”.

Questioned by Pearse Doherty about his role in the bank, he said: “I don’t regret any decision I took. I do regret the Society had a commercial loan book that at that time was too large.”

“I was part of the operation, part of the decisions to engage in commercial development.”

He said he regretted it now “of course” that the loan book had become too large but at the time he it was a normal commercial decision.

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