Six Michael Fingleton doctors sought INBS inquiry delays

Latest submission said ex-INBS director will not be able to take part ‘for at least four months’

Michael Fingleton arriving at the INBS inquiry, at Blackhall Place, Dublin, last May. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Michael Fingleton arriving at the INBS inquiry, at Blackhall Place, Dublin, last May. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

A stalled inquiry into alleged regulatory breaches at Irish Nationwide Building Society is seeking to get back on track, but former INBS managing director Michael Fingleton’s doctors have said that he will not be fit to participate until late May at the earliest.

The Central Bank decided in 2015 to set up the inquiry into the actions of five former INBS executives and directors, including Mr Fingleton, in relation to a series of alleged breaches of financial law between August 2004 and September 2008.

While initial hearings on the first of seven phases of inquiry were postponed for six weeks early last year due Mr Fingleton’s ill health, 26 witnesses subsequently gave evidence between February and June. Since then, the investigation has been unable to complete work on the first element, into the workings of INBS’s credit committee, or start a second phase, which had been forecast to be completed before Christmas, according to a lawyer advising the inquiry.

‘Variety of ailments’

Addressing an inquiry management meeting on Monday, inquiry senior counsel Brian O’Moore noted that six different clinicians have provided reports “to a variety of ailments he [Mr Fingleton] has suffered since January of last year”.

The latest submission, from a doctor identified as “Clinician E”, on January 24th, stated Mr Fingleton “will not be able to take part in the inquiry, either on a written or oral basis for at least four months”, Mr O’Moore said.

“That would mean, on the basis of the medical evidence, Mr Fingleton cannot take part in the inquiry until the very end of May of this year, or more likely one would have thought June,” he said.

Last February, one of the five men initially under investigation, former INBS chairman Michael Walsh, reached a settlement with the regulator, in which he was fined €20,000 and banned from managing a regulated financial firm for three years. While Mr Walsh was not involved in the day-to-day management of the lender, which cost taxpayers €5.4 billion to rescue during the crisis, he admitted his ultimate responsibility for certain breaches.

Settlement agreement

INBS’s former head of commercial lending Tom McMenamin entered a settlement agreement with the Central Bank last month. The remaining individuals are Mr Fingleton, INBS’s one-time finance director John Stanley Purcell, and former UK lending head Gary McCollum.

The inquiry is now seeking to move into its second phase, into the INBS board’s obligations in relation to commercial property lending before the crash. The options, according to Mr O’Moore, are to continue to investigate the actions of Mr Fingleton and others in the absence of the 81-year-old; exclude Mr Fingleton from investigation until he is fit; or postpone all hearings.

The barrister said the third option was the least attractive. A spokeswoman for the Central Bank declined to update The Irish Times on the deliberations.