Top INBS executives clash on credit committee membership

Fingleton right-hand man says lender’s former MD was on key committee from 2001

Former INBS managing director Michael Fingleton. Stan Purcell said  Mr Fingleton was appointed to its credit committee in 2001, and was “never off” the committee”.  Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Former INBS managing director Michael Fingleton. Stan Purcell said Mr Fingleton was appointed to its credit committee in 2001, and was “never off” the committee”. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

Irish Nationwide’s two most senior executives clashed on Friday over Michael Fingleton’s membership of the critical credit committee at the now-failed building society.

Stan Purcell, former company secretary of the lender and Mr Fingleton’s right-hand man, insisted that the former managing director of Irish Nationwide was appointed to the credit committee in 2001, and was “never off the credit committee”.

He was cross-examining Mr Fingleton during the latter’s fourth day of evidence to the Central Bank inquiry into the lender €5.4 billion collapse.

The inquiry is looking at whether the society’s credit committee failed to scrutinise large commercial loans in arrears, its exposure to specific customers, or highlighted risks in the current module.

Mr Fingleton has repeatedly denied being a member of the society’s credit committee, saying he couldn’t have been involved in all of the institution’s processes.

Brian O’Moore, a senior counsel assisting the inquiry, told Mr Fingleton that minutes from a meeting in December 2004 show he was “unequivocally appointed to the credit committee”.

“The board had appointed you to take on the role of sitting on the credit committee. Do you not think you should have discharged that responsibility and sat on the committee,” Mr O’Moore asked.

Disputed

In response, Mr Fingleton again disputed his supposed membership of the committee and said: “As I explained a number of times, the origins of any alleged membership was in 2003 and, in a conversation I clearly recall with Mr Purcell [the society’s former finance director], I said I could not serve on the credit committee. He indicated to me he might leave my name there in case I changed my mind. I considered myself not a member of the credit committee.”

Mr Purcell disputed that, saying he had “no recollection” of any conversation with Mr Fingleton in either 2002, 2003 or 2004 concerning the credit committee.

He added that Mr Fingleton was appointed to the credit committee in 2001, and was “never off the credit committee”.

The inquiry into the downfall of INBS has now been adjourned until September, when oral submissions in respect of the first module will begin. The inquiry as a whole is expected to last until late 2019.

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