Bank’s big three put in the line of fire

PRESSURE is mounting on the three top figures in AIB to appear before a Dáil committee investigating the financial scandals that have gripped the country’s biggest bank.

Chairman Dermot Gleeson, chief executive Michael Buckley and AIB Ireland boss Donal Forde are likely to be called to defend the bank’s reputation before the Dáil committee on finance and the public services.

Mr Gleeson, who was Attorney-General in the rainbow coalition government, is regarded as one of the country’s finest legal minds. The 55-year-old succeeded Lochlann Quinn as chairman last year after three years as a board member.

Well-connected in business and political circles, Mr Gleeson was paid €217,000 by the bank for his non-executive, part-time role.

Mr Gleeson is also a director of a number of companies including Independent News & Media and the Gate Theatre.

He was also chairman of the Review Body on Higher Remuneration in the Public Sector which dealt with civil service pay.

While Mr Gleeson only became chairman of the bank last year, just before it emerged that some executives were involved in tax evasion, he is likely to have to take the front line in any appearance before the Dáil.

The bank’s chief executive, Michael Buckley, has also faced criticism since the first scandal involving the overcharging of foreign exchange customers was uncovered.

It has been a tough few years for the Corkman, who has been with the bank for some years in a variety of roles. He joined AIB having come from the civil service and NCB Stockbrokers.

Having been the managing director of its Polish arm and then AIB Capital Markets, Mr Buckley, 58, succeeded Tom Mulcahy as group chief executive.

Not long after his appointment, he was thrown into the Rusnak trading losses affair and offered the board his resignation, which was not accepted.

Mr Buckley, who earned €1.4 million last year (a 45% jump on the previous year) has faced calls from some commentators to consider his position.

The third executive likely to be in the firing line is Donal Forde. Given that the administrative cock-up that led to customers being overcharged took place at the Irish banking operation he heads, he will be called to account by both the financial services regulator and AIB’s own investigators as how it went unnoticed for so long.

While the bank does not disclose his salary, he is among the highest paid bosses and is seen by some a contender for the top job when Mr Buckley retires.

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