Thursday, 6 January 2011

Run, Fat Boy, Run

A few short years ago, Michael " Fingers" Fingleton was CEO of the Irish Nationwide Building Society. Today, he spends his time dodging reporters in airports.

Unfortunately, Fingers has been the victim of dubious accusations by former employees of the bank.

  • Olivia Greene, a former loans supervisor, claimed that the bank gave the former Irish finance minister Charlie McCreevy €1.6 million to buy a €1.5 million property. By my calculation, that loan is in excess of 100 percent of the property value. Fingers was a first-rate banker. I am sure he would have never authorised such a loan.
  • I cannot believe that he gave a loan to Celia Larkin the ex-partner of the former Irish prime minister Bertie Ahern without requiring any proof of income.
  • Equally, I find it totally implausible that Fingers would have countenanced giving loans to John Mara, the son of Fianna Fail Director of Elections. Apparently court documents say that young John received a loan amounting to €1.5 million without any collateral. Surely the Irish courts are mistaken?
  • Is it possible that Fingers fast tracked loans amounting to €7 million and €3 million to two Fianna Fail politicians? I don't believe it.
Nor can I believe that Fingers was in any way responsible for the appalling losses of Irish nationwide. In 2008, the institution made a pre-tax loss of €280 million. It had to write off loans amounting to €464 million. In 2009, it made further losses of €2.5 billion, wiping out all the profits the bank made inception as Irish Nationwide.

Eventually, the Irish state had to inject €3 billion into the bank to prevent it from collapsing. It is inconceivable that these losses or the bailout had anything to do with Fingers.

Churlishly, as Fingers was retiring after nearly 4 decades of selfless service to Irish Nationwide, the government wanted him to repay a €1 million bonus. As a consequence, this poor man suffered the indignity of reporter chasing him around Dublin airport asking him to pay the money back.

So farewell then Fingers. The Irish financial system will miss you. Enjoy your retirement. You deserve it.


Anonymous said...


dearieme said...

"the Irish state had to inject €3 billion into the bank to prevent it from collapsing": nope, there was no "had to" about it. The politicians chose to.

Ed said...

Indeed dearieme, no need whatsoever