Michael Fingleton said he was not going to be blamed for €4m Lynn loan, court told

Courts hears of dispute within INBS over who signed off on loan for Howth house

A former underwriter for Irish Nationwide has told a multi-million euro theft trial that former bank boss Michael Fingleton told her he was not going to be blamed for agreeing a loan the bank ultimately wrote off as a loss of over €4 million.

Former solicitor Michael Lynn (53) is on trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court accused of the theft of around €27 million from seven financial institutions.

Mr Lynn of Millbrook Court, Red Cross, Co Wicklow, has pleaded not guilty to 21 counts of theft in Dublin between October 23rd, 2006 and April 20th, 2007.

It is the prosecution case that Mr Lynn obtained multiple mortgages on the same properties in a situation where banks were unaware that other institutions were also providing finance.

The financial institutions involved are Bank of Ireland Mortgages Bank Ltd, Danske Bank, Irish Life and Permanent, Ulster Bank, ACC Bank plc, Bank of Scotland Ireland Ltd, and Irish Nationwide Building Society (INBS).

On day 15 of the trial, Feargal Kavanagh SC, defending, was cross-examining Olivia Greene, a former senior underwriter at INBS about "difficulties" she had with the society.

Ms Greene agreed with counsel that a dispute arose between herself and Mr Fingleton as to whether or not he had signed off on the loan of €4,125,000, drawn down in April 2017, for the purchase of a house in Howth, Co Dublin.

The trial has previously heard that Mr Lynn made an application for a loan to INBS in late 2006 for the purchase of a property known as Glenlion House in Howth. In February 2008, a decision was made by INBS to write off the loan and take a loss of over €4 million.

Conversation

Ms Greene said that during a conversation with Mr Fingleton in his office he asked her who agreed to the Glenlion loan and she told him that she had discussed the loan with him. She said Mr Fingleton said he did not agree the loan and she replied he did agree it in this office.

She said Mr Fingleton said that someone was going to be blamed for it, but it was not going to be him. She told the trial she said “just to let you know” she was not in the habit of signing €4 million loans without his approval.

Mr Kavanagh asked the witness why Mr Fingleton wanted to take issue about whether he had approved this loan. Ms Greene answered that she thought he wanted someone else to “take the flak for it”.

Ms Greene agreed with counsel that during her tenure, she was aware Mr Fingleton had been given special powers by the board to run the bank in a certain way and he could vary loan terms and give person’s preferential rates.

Mr Kavanagh asked if she was aware of any secret profit deals or arrangements Mr Fingleton did with clients. Ms Greene replied she could not say she was aware.

Counsel submitted that “given the subsequent demise of the bank”, it could be taken that there was a lot of defaulting in relation to the repayment of loans across the board and not just in relation to Mr Lynn. Ms Greene replied “yes absolutely”.

The trial continues on Friday before Judge Martin Nolan and a jury.