AIB denies it sacked worker for ‘whistle-blowing’

ALLIED Irish Bank has insisted it fired a self-declared whistle-blower for accessing the private bank accounts of his colleagues without authorisation.

Lawyers for AIB told a hearing of the Employment Appeals Tribunal in Dublin yesterday that Brian Purcell, a junior manager in its capital market division, was dismissed as a result of the findings of three separate disciplinary proceedings.

They rejected claims that he was sacked because he had highlighted irregularities in the bank’s internal accounting system through its confidential whistle-blowing “Speak Up” process.

Father-of-two Mr Purcell, 38, from Skerries, Co Dublin, claims unfair dismissal by the bank.

Patrick Hanratty, for AIB, told the hearing that Mr Purcell was not paid a bonus for 2007 because his managers felt his performance was significantly below par.

Mr Hanratty said it should have been “blindingly obvious” to the claimant that he was not going to get a bonus payment that year.

AIB took disciplinary measures against Mr Purcell after it discovered that he had “systematically and deliberately” accessed 16 private bank accounts, most of them belonging to his colleagues, over two days in March 2008.

Mr Purcell accepted he should not have accessed the accounts but explained he had done so to check on whether other AIB staff had been paid an annual bonus.

AIB said it discovered that Mr Purcell had previously accessed other accounts in a similar fashion without authorisation in 2007.

The bank said dismissal of Mr Purcell had been recommended by all three separate disciplinary hearings into the matter including one conducted by an external, independent party.

They found him guilty of serious misconduct for accessing private financial information of his other colleagues.

Mr Hanratty pointed out that the decision not to pay Mr Purcell a bonus had been made two days before he had filed a complaint under the bank’s “Speak Up” process.


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