A new low for the gga

rte will probably give this cunt a job on the sunday game as they have no problem giving o’rourke & bernard flynn jobs

Tribunal told of Irish Nationwide loan culture


Sat, Jul 02, 2011

FORMER IRISH Nationwide chief executive Michael Fingleton “actively encouraged” staff to supplement their income by buying property using loans from the building society, the Employment Appeals Tribunal was told yesterday.

Sacked Irish Nationwide branch manager Brendan Beggan (48), who claims he was unfairly dismissed, said the culture was that staff didn’t fill in details on loan applications and affordability was not established.

“You signed your application form,” he said.

Tribunal chairman Dermot McCarthy confirmed yesterday he would issue a subpoena to call Mr Fingleton to appear before the tribunal and give evidence in relation to the case.

Mr Beggan began working for the building society as Monaghan branch manager in 1996, after some time working with Canada Life.

He was dismissed in July 2009 after failing to repay a loan.

He told the tribunal he had no qualifications for the post, but was taken on by Mr Fingleton because he was an inter-county footballer.

“If you were a high-profile person they wanted you on board,” he said.

He said he was part of a group of close associates of Mr Fingleton. His responsibilities included checking out all of the property available in Monaghan and all the people who were in financial difficulties in the county.

“We were all terrified of the man and what he was capable of, but at the same time we had mutual respect,” he said.

Mr Beggan had a home loan from the society and in 1999 took a further £90,000 (€114,300) loan to buy land at Killylean, Monaghan, on which to build a house. He was earning £27,000 at the time.

Mr McCarthy noted that the loan application did not detail Mr Beggan’s financial commitments.

“I was never asked to,” Mr Beggan said. He said Mr Fingleton told him finance would not be a problem for him. He often applied for a loan and was approved and had it drawn down on the same day, he said.

On one occasion, he was given a loan with €20,000 more than he had applied for.

Mr Beggan borrowed a further €63,500 in 2002 to complete the Killylean project and buy three other plots on which to develop homes.

Though he sold all the homes for more than €800,000, his solicitor told him there was no money to meet the loans.

He drove to Dublin the next morning to see Mr Fingleton, Mr Beggan said.

“I said I was prepared to put a mortgage on my family home; he said ‘there is no need to do that’,” Mr Beggan told the tribunal.

Mr Fingleton told him to continue paying the mortgage and to finish a separate property he was in the process of building and then sell that to clear his loans.

“He said, ‘Go on and do your work, I will sort this’,” Mr Beggan claimed. However, the recession hit, the property did not sell and he couldn’t clear the loans.

His relationship with Mr Fingleton turned “extremely frosty” in 2007 after his partner, Olivia Green, gave evidence in a High Court case against the building society, Mr Beggan claimed. Mr Fingleton then instigated an investigation into his loans.

He was suspended in January 2009 and dismissed six months later.

He told his counsel Mary-Paula Guinness that he didn’t inform an independent investigator he had been directed by Mr Fingleton to go on paying the loan even though the property was sold because he was afraid.

Mr Fingleton was a very powerful man and had a lot of connections in Monaghan, he said.

“I feared the connections and what might come down the line to me,” he said.

Counsel for Irish Nationwide Ercus Stewart said the remarks were outrageous and amounted to defamation. Mr Beggan was “guilty of abuse of process”, he said.

Mr McCarthy said the tribunal would weigh up what had been said and Mr Fingleton would be present to give evidence himself.

The case was adjourned to September.