The Financial Regulator has fined Irish Nationwide Building Society €50,000 after it circulated an e-mail which breached the Regulator's consumer protection code.

The e-mail, sent by the son of CEO Michael Fingleton, was seeking deposit business in Britain on the strength of the Government's move to guarantee deposits in the Irish banking system.

In a statement this afternoon, the Regulator said it had reasonable cause to suspect the building society has committed a breach of a regulatory requirement in relation to the Financial Regulator's Consumer Protection Code.

The financial watchdog said that Irish Nationwide failed to 'act professionally and with due regard to the integrity of the market'.

It said that it had reprimanded Irish Nationwide and required it to pay a monetary penalty of €50,000.

Irish Nationwide has apologised unreservedly and said the email was 'inappropriate and regrettable in the circumstances'.

Michael Fingleton Jnr sent the e-mail to a friend from the Irish Nationwide's London office stating that Irish Nationwide represented the 'safest place to deposit money in Europe with an AAA guarantee from a country with the lowest national debt to GDP ration of any AAA country'.

The e-mail said that deposits attracting fixed-term interest rates of 6.75% and 7.1% were guaranteed regardless of size and represented the best value in the UK market.

The e-mail continued: 'Please be so kind as to pass on to friends, colleagues and clients as you see fit.'