That the long standing and all-powerful manipulative, and self-serving CEO of the Irish Nationwide Building Society, Michael Fingleton was allowed to effectively run this company without any real restraints from either the Board of Directors or the State Regulatory Bodies, is indeed a disgraceful and highly regrettable chapter in the history of the country's commercial life which the politicians, and others who facilitated his excesses have struggled hard to keep under wraps.
Tom Lyons, and Richard Curran, in their well researched, and extremely readable book "Fingers" chapter his rise within INBS, and his creating a personal control matrix that enabled him to make huge loans to Property Companies and 'cronies' without proper and adequate credit and viability checks, often inadequate collateral and security paperwork and legal documents, without the need for authorisation by a properly empowered Credit Committee and/or Board. It was sheer commercial lunacy which cost the taxpayers in excess of Euro 5.4 billions to stop the rot from imploding onto the wider financial community and wrecking the economy in a big way.
And it could have and should have been stopped during the most prolific period of Fingleton's period of irresponsible and toxic lending, 2000 to 2008 by the Regulatory Bodies, but foremost by the Board of Directors, and the Chairman. In 2000 Dr Michael Walsh was heralded in as a person of renowned banking and banking regulation experience. A former Professor of Banking and Finance at UCD, Michael Walsh seemingly forgetting all that he knew and would have imparted upon his students, allowed Mr Fingleton to continue throwing vast sums of money at hopelessly evaluated property schemes, and took every opportunity to defend and champion Fingleton in public and the media. It was not surprising perhaps that when the 'dung hit the fan' and the magnitude of the losses to the tax payers became known, Dr Walsh resigned as Chairman in order to avoid having to give public testimony on his actions whilst Chairman.
The best advice that can be given to erstwhile banking students desirous of a long successful career, is to read this book and never under any circumstances run your company like Michael Fingleton, Michael Walsh and others ran INBS..
This is a good book that ordinarily would, in my view warrant a 5 ***** rating, but I have knocked 1 * off because for some inexplicable reason the publisher Gill & Macmillan have seen fit to omit an index which in books of this type, where many names of individuals, companies, regulatory and the like are used in the text, is an essential aid and reference point for readers. It made my reading of the book more time consuming by constantly having to troll all through previous pages and chapters for memory refreshers etc.
I am surprised to see only two other reviews so far as this scandal has maybe been overshadowed. In some ways the INBS debacle was overshadowed by Anglo Irish and Sean Quinn, but this is a pretty well written account of what some think was the worst of all, on a pound for pound basis. Michael Walsh has been giving evidence to the Oireachtas committee (Sept 2015), and it is all on the internet. Have a look and make your mind up as to whether author Richard Curran or the former chairman of the society is the more believable!