Michael Fingleton told of ‘terse’ interactions with one-time employee

Former INBS chief continues to represent himself at Central Bank inquiry

Michael Fingleton is one of four people subject to the Central Bank’s inquiry. Photograph: Alan Betson

Michael Fingleton is one of four people subject to the Central Bank’s inquiry. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

Former Irish Nationwide (INBS) managing director Michael Fingleton, who is representing himself in an inquiry into alleged regulatory breaches at the building society before the financial crisis, was told by a one-time employee that their engagements were typically “terse”.

“I would have found my interactions with you would have been quite brief and terse,” said INBS’s one-time homeloans manager, Darragh Daly, in response to a question when under cross-examination by from Mr Fingleton on Thursday.

Mr Fingleton responded: “So, you had a negative view of myself?”

“That’s not what I said,” Mr Daly said.

The inquiry, set up on foot of a Central Bank decision in 2015 and where public hearings began in December, is seeking to establish if Mr Fingleton and three other former managers were involved in seven so-called contraventions at INBS between August 2004 and September 2008.

The first module of the inquiry is looking at whether the society’s credit committee failed to adhere to internal policies by not reviewing cases of large commercial loan arrears, exposure to specific sectors or customers, or issues raised by internal audit, outside advisers or regulators.

Mr Fingleton is one of four individuals subject to the inquiry. The others are former INBS finance director John Stanley Purcell, one-time commercial lending manager Tom McMenamin, and Gary McCollum, who once led the society’s UK lending activities from Belfast.

11 meetings

Mr Daly - who served on the credit committee between February 2005 and July 2016, when he became head of credit risk - told the inquiry he only recalled the committee reviewing loan applications during the 11 meetings he attended.

When Mr Daly was asked by Mr Fingleton whether it was enough that various reports - including loan arrears cases - were widely disseminated to senior managers, the former homeloans manager repeatedly said if these were presented and raised at the committee, they would have informed their lending discussions.

Mr Daly insisted that as his background was in residential lending, he had nothing to contribute to credit committee discussions on commercial loans, which increasing became INBS’s core business during the period under investigation.

“I do not believe that the knowledge and experience I gained in residential lending was of any assistance in terms of commercial lending,” he said “I did not feel in any way competent to input into those /[DISCUSSIONS/].”

Mr Fingleton expressed incredulity at this point, as more than 80 per cent of commercial lending during the boom was for residential development.

Mr Purcell, who is also representing himself, is due to question Mr Daly on Friday. Mr McMenamin and Mr McCollum are not currently engaging with the inquiry.