Lowry and Fingleton had many dealings

Tue, Apr 24, 2012, 01:00

ANALYSIS:Former government minister Michael Lowry has had numerous dealings over the years with Irish Nationwide and its controversial former chief executive, Michael Fingleton

LAND REGISTRY files for Co Tipperary indicate that the relationship between Michael Lowry and Michael Fingleton continued right up to the end of Fingleton’s less-than-illustrious career.

Irish Nationwide, which Fingleton ran as a personal fiefdom, is now part of the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation. It has cost the State €5.4 billion.

In August 1996, soon after he became a government minister, Lowry thought of approaching Fingleton for a loan. The young minister told Fingleton that his salary was £65,000, his wife earned £20,000, and that he earned director’s fees of £20,000 from his company, Garuda.

Within a day Fingleton authorised a 100 per cent £200,000 loan so Lowry could buy a house in Blackrock, Co Dublin.

In October 1996 Lowry opened an offshore account with Irish Nationwide in the Isle of Man into which £147,000 was deposited and which the Moriarty tribunal was to later find was money that was being paid to Lowry by businessman Denis O’Brien.

Land Registry files show that Lowry’s dealings with Irish Nationwide continued through the sittings of the Moriarty tribunal.

In April 2008, a mortgage with Nationwide “stamped to cover” €550,000 was registered against the property in Holycross, Co Tipperary, where Lowry lives.

While that is a straightforward transaction, the one involving his company, Abbeygreen, looks a little more complex.

Land owned by Abbeygreen was bought from a couple in October 2006 by a company called Horsebarrack Property Ltd, which was incorporated in October 2005. No new mortgage was registered against the property at the time.

The Horsebarrack abridged accounts for the years 2006 to 2009 record it as having assets of just €2 in each of those years.

It had debts of approximately €20,000. It may have been holding the property as nominee. This could not be ascertained last night.

The accounts for 2010 show it was owed €219,698 at the end of that year and that it owed €104,078. The accounts said the company provided services to a solicitors practice during the year associated with one of its directors, and the money the company was owed, was owed by the practice.

The directors and owners of the company were Joseph and Sharon Fitzpatrick. Mr Fitzpatrick is a solicitor. Efforts to contact the Fitzpatricks yesterday met no success.

In May 2011, ownership of the land moved from Horsebarrack to Abbeygreen, according to Land Registry files.

According to filings to the Companies Registration Office, Lowry owns 95 per cent of the shares in Abbeygreen with the remainder of the company’s shares being owned by his brother Patrick.