A BANK manager who was fired after he wrote a letter regarding a $60m loan to a company of which he was joint-owner was unfairly dismissed.
An Employment Appeals Tribunal yesterday awarded Declan Maher €25,000.
Mr Maher, from Clifden, Co Galway, was dismissed as an AIB branch manager in 2011 after it emerged that in April 2005 he had written a letter to BMB Partnership, of which he was a 50pc shareholder, stating that the bank was "agreeable in principle" to advance $60m to the company to buy 100 villas in Florida.
An Employment Appeals Tribunal found Mr Maher's actions were a clear conflict of interest, but had not warranted dismissal.
However, it found that his behaviour was "so egregious and of such a contributing factor" as to warrant a significant reduction in the level of compensation payable.
The tribunal heard Mr Maher denied that the letter amounted to a loan sanction in principle, insisting that it was a marketing letter to attract new businesses to the bank. The tribunal ruled that the investigation was flawed as it was grounded on a report where the final author was not revealed.
A former manager of the special investigations unit who completed a summary report expressed surprise that the final report had been accredited to him.
"The final report bore no relationship to the initial report prepared by Mr G and, more importantly, Mr G came to significantly different conclusions," said the tribunal.
It also ruled that while the letter issued by Mr Maher to BMB Partnership was "entirely inappropriate", it was not persuaded that it had constituted a letter of sanction.
"The determination of the tribunal is that the sanction imposed was excessive for the breach of trust committed by the claimant and that the more appropriate sanction would have been to demote the claimant," said.
"The tribunal is not satisfied that the bank was exposed to reputational damage or exposed to potential financial loss."
Mr Maher said yesterday: "I am delighted that the tribunal found I was unfairly dismissed.
"The tribunal confirmed the entire bank process was tainted and flawed.
"In August 2013, I discovered that the Bank Investigation Report used to dismiss me was not written by the man who carried out the investigation.
"Worse still, the bank had not disclosed the existence of this man's actual report, which had very different conclusions."