Central Bank inquiry into Fingleton terminated

Former INBS chief will no longer be subject to inquiry due to ill health, regulator says

Michael Fingleton at the INBS inquiry in 2018. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Michael Fingleton at the INBS inquiry in 2018. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

A Central Bank of Ireland inquiry into former Irish Nationwide Building Society chief executive Michael Fingleton has been terminated due to his ill health.

The regulator posted a notice on its website in recent days stating that Mr Fingleton would no longer be subject to the inquiry on medical grounds.

This followed an application from Michael Fingleton jnr on September 18th requesting that the inquiry be terminated due to his father’s ill health. The nature of Mr Fingleton’s illness was not revealed in the decision document, which redacts a large amount of detail.

Mr Fingleton jnr argued that it would be “inhumane and contrary to natural justice for the inquiry to continue in respect of my father”.

The inquiry began public hearings in December 2017 into whether Mr Fingleton snr, former INBS chief financial officer Stan Purcell, former chairman Michael Walsh, INBS’s one-time head of UK lending Gary McCollum, and Tom McMenamin, a former head of commercial lending, participated in a series of alleged regulatory breaches between 2004 and 2008.

By 2008, INBS had advanced €6.025 billion for commercial property development on condition that the bank shared the profits from the projects involved with the borrowers.

In June of this year, Mr Fingleton jnr informed the inquiry that it was unlikely that his father would be able to partake with the inquiry in the future. A report from Mr Fingleton’s consultant physician in August led to the inquiry hearing from the clinician. The details of that examination have been redacted.

After Mr Fingleton jnr’s request that the inquiry be stopped, an oral hearing was held on November 12th.

Meaningful participation

In its decision, the inquiry team said: “Where a person’s right to participate meaningfully in the inquiry process cannot be vindicated, an inquiry against that person cannot proceed.”

The inquiry members said that they were conscious of the public-interest aspect of this inquiry but that public interest is not so exceptional as to override Mr Fingleton’s rights to fair procedures. They added that they were “mindful” of Mr Fingleton’s advanced age.

The Central Bank’s enforcement unit argued that the investigation could be completed without receiving oral or written submissions from Mr Fingleton. But the inquiry members disagreed.

“During the course of the . . . hearings, the persons concerned were advised that they would have the opportunity to make written and oral submissions in relation to [this module of the hearing] and Mr Fingleton expressed his intention to do so,” the inquiry members said. “The inquiry will therefore proceed to complete [the module] in respect of the remaining person concerned to whom it is relevant.”

“The inquiry members do not agree that they can make any assumptions in relation to the content of any submissions that Mr Fingleton may have made.

“In conclusion, the inquiry is permanently stayed in its totality as against Mr Fingleton as a person concerned in this inquiry,” the members said.

With the inquiry having previously reached settlements with Mr Walsh and Mr McMenamin, its inquiry will now focus on Mr Purcell and Mr McCollum. However, the module the inquiry is currently focused on does not concern Mr McCollum.