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Fingleton defends his pension pot
02 Sep 2015 23:11
Former Irish Nationwide boss Michael Fingleton has told the banking inquiry that in some circumstances he could approve loans of €1m before the building society's board was notified.
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He also has defended his €27.6m pension pot and said it had grown because he had personally managed the fund.
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Mr Fingleton told the banking inquiry that the net cost of the fund was €3m to the building society and he grew it ten-fold.
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He also said that he regretted very much that the State and the taxpayer had to pick up the bill for the financial crash.
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Mr Fingleton told the inquiry that he feels he has been wronged.
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He said that he always insisted that the board would be involved in the lending processes.
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"I don't regret any decision I took, but I do regret that the society had a loan book that was too large," he said.
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He said he regretted that the building society did not get the time to downsize the society's balance sheet.
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Mr Fingleton said he did not determine his bonus; it was done by the remuneration committee.
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He denied that he had exclusive knowledge of loans, saying the board approved all loans over €1m.
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He said he ensured that the board had the final say on lending. Mr Fingleton said Nationwide's lending was within the capacity of the society's financial resources.
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He said he was ultimately responsible for what took place in the organisation.
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Meanwhile, the former chairman at Irish Nationwide, Michael Walsh, has blamed the Central Bank and the Financial Regulator for not intervening sooner to deal with the crash.
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He told the inquiry he could not understand why the authorities did not intervene in the markets before the financial crisis broke.
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Mr Walsh said he warned the Regulator in May 2008 that actions were required to save the Irish financial system and he said acting sooner would have cost less.
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Labour Senator Susan O'Keeffe raised the findings of the Central Bank's recent investigation into the society, which pointed to multiple failings.
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She said Mr Walsh was largely blaming external factors and she asked whether he should also list its own failings.
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Mr Walsh said he took issue with the findings and he said the Central Bank did not speak to him as part of its probe and he was chairman at the time.
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Mr Walsh said he was "absolutely astonished" by evidence at the inquiry from Brendan McDonagh of the National Treasury Management Agency, that Irish Nationwide was a broken institution.
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Mr Walsh said Mr McDonagh had told the Department of Finance in an email that Nationwide had €3 billion in cash on the night of the bank guarantee.
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He denied that Nationwide created the property bubble. He said no one institution could create a bubble.
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He said he did not believe the society lent without approval of the board.
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Mr Walsh said he could not rationalise the €5.4bn bailout cost for Irish Nationwide and said the maximum would be €3.8bn.
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But he added no loss to the taxpayer was acceptable. He said he had deep regrets he did not see the problems earlier.
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He said that the Financial Regulator never took a leadership role.
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