Building society dismissal case ends


THE LENGTHY hearing into an unfair dismissal case involving former Irish Nationwide chief executive Michael Fingleton ended yesterday in Dublin.

The Employment Appeals Tribunal had been hearing the case taken against the society by a former Irish Nationwide branch manager in Monaghan, Brendan Beggan. He was dismissed in July 2009 for failing to repay a loan.

During various hearings, which date back to January 2011, Mr Fingleton was subpoenaed to appear before the tribunal.

In his testimony in December 2011, Mr Fingleton denied using the financial institution as a “personal bank” after he was accused of having “actively encouraged” staff there to supplement their income by buying property using loans from the building society.

Following the non-attendance of the final witness in the case yesterday afternoon, both sides agreed to continue without that evidence, allowing tribunal chairman Dermot McCarthy to conclude the hearing.

Mr McCarthy said that given the nature of the case, the tribunal could not give its determination immediately as it would need to review the evidence.

He informed both sides that they would be contacted after a determination was reached.

During its sittings in July and December, the tribunal heard that Mr Beggan had a home loan from the society and in 1999 took a further £90,000 (€114,300) loan to buy land at Killylean, Monaghan, on which to build a house. He was earning £27,000 at the time.

In 2002 he borrowed a further €63,500. He was also approved for a €360,000 loan in November 2003, yet €382,000 was drawn down. Mr Beggan borrowed a further €63,500 in 2002 to complete the Killylean project and buy three other plots on which to develop homes. Although he sold all the homes for more than €800,000, his solicitor told him there was no money to meet the loans.

Mr Beggan claimed that his relationship with Mr Fingleton turned “extremely frosty” in 2007 after his partner, Olivia Green, gave evidence in a High Court case against the building society which preceded Mr Fingleton instigating the investigation into his loans which eventually led to his dismissal.