Society launches loans to politicians inquiry

IRISH Nationwide Building Society has launched an investigation into revelations its former chief executive Michael Fingleton fast-tracked loans to Fianna Fáil politicians and European Commissioner Charlie McCreevy.

The society said it took the issues very seriously and wanted to establish the circumstances surrounding the loans themselves and how the information came into the public domain.

“The investigation will focus on the accuracy or otherwise of the allegations made and the issue of client confidentiality.

“The society wishes to state that it takes the matters raised and the manner in which they were raised very seriously,” it said.

The Financial Regulator said it would not comment on individual institutions or ongoing supervision issues.

But it did say it would “continue to actively investigate any matters that come to our attention”.

On Monday, RTÉ’s Primetime Investigates reported that while in charge of Irish Nationwide Mr Fingleton bypassed its standard loan application procedures to quickly release loans for named Fianna Fáil politicians.

There is no suggestion the politicians did anything wrong or gave favourable treatment because of the loans they received.

Olivia Greene, a former home loans supervisor at Irish Nationwide, said she had reservations about a number of loans including one for €1.6 million advanced to Mr McCreevy. Documents relating to this loan were broadcast.

Mr McCreevy, the outgoing markets’ commissioner, could not be contacted to explain the loan.

The declaration of interests he submitted when he joined the commission in 2004 listed two properties he had a share in.

One was the family home at Millicent, Sallins, Co Kildare, and the other was a jointly owned office in Kildare.

The Irish Nationwide documents show the property linked to the loan was valued on June 13, 2006, at €1.5 million.

The property was fully let and the loan paid out was €1.6m (106%), despite internal rules against 100% mortgages.

Ms Greene also said current Fianna Fáil Senator Francis O’Brien was given a fast-track loan of €7m.

Unsuccessful efforts were made to contact Mr O’Brien yesterday.

His register of interests from 2008 list his part-ownership of 10 development properties along with a handful of farm lands and residential houses.

Former FF senator Don Lydon was given a loan for €3m, she said.

And a FF councillor got a loan in the region of €315,000 without having to complete extensive paperwork, Ms Greene said.

Fianna Fáil made no comment on the revelations made in the programme.

The Labour Party’s finance spokeswoman Joan Burton described the reports as disturbing.

Ms Greene took a case against her effective dismissal from Irish Nationwide earlier this year after she revealed that Mr Fingleton had personally sanctioned a €4.1m loan for rogue solicitor Michael Lynn.



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