Tribunal hears of ‘lax loan culture’ at INBS

FORMER Irish Nationwide chief executive Michael Fingleton continued to authorise several loans for one of his branch managers even though repayments on existing loans were in excess of the official’s salary.

An employment appeals tribunal heard yesterday about the “lax loan culture” that operated under Mr Fingleton’s management.

The former manager of Irish Nationwide’s Monaghan branch, Brendan Beggan, said it was not unusual for staff members to apply for a loan and receive a cheque for the requested amount on the same day.

Mr Beggan, aged 48, has taken a claim for unfair dismissal against the building society, alleging he was targeted by Mr Fingleton after his partner, Olivia Greene, who also worked for Irish Nationwide, had exposed its lax loan culture during a High Court case.

However, Irish Nationwide maintains Mr Beggan was dismissed on July 16, 2009, for gross misconduct over his failure to repay a mortgage taken out with the building society, despite selling the related property in Killileen, Co Monaghan, for €202,000 in 2004.

Mr Beggan said yesterday there was a culture within Irish Nationwide that staff supplemented their incomes through taking out loans.

The tribunal heard that Mr Beggan had made 13 loan applications to Irish Nationwide while working for them and that their paperwork was “always in disarray”.

After learning the mortgage on the property had never been registered, Mr Beggan met Mr Fingleton, who reassured him there was no need to take out a new mortgage on his family home to repay the money to the building society. Mr Beggan said Mr Fingleton told him to continue making the normal monthly repayments on the mortgage and he would sort out the issue.

Counsel for Irish Nationwide, Ercus Stewart, said his remarks were outrageous and defamatory of his former boss.

The case was adjourned until a date in September when Mr Fingleton is due to be subpoenaed as a witness.

Picture: Michael Fingleton: Former INBS chief.

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