Key Post An open letter to Shane Ross

Discussion in 'The great financial debates' started by Brendan Burgess, 27 May 2011.

  1. Brendan Burgess

    Brendan Burgess Founder

    Shane Ross
    Dáil Eireann

    Dear Deputy Ross

    On Tuesday, Enda Kenny had the Dáil in stitches reminding you of what you had said about the Irish Nationwide on 28 March 2004:

    You handled it well. You laughed it off. You laughed it off again the next morning when Cathal Mac Coille asked you about it on Morning Ireland.

    But this was not a once-off error of judgment. You portrayed yourself as the scourge of the banks and the bankers. But until March 2009, when Mark Little asked you straight out “Should Fingleton resign?” you had never criticised Michael Fingleton or the Irish Nationwide. Instead, you lauded his performance and attacked anyone who dared criticise him.

    Why did you never run a story about Irish Nationwide’s overcharging?
    You ran stories about every other lender in this country, but you ignored the predatory lending practices of the Irish Nationwide.

    • Their practice of charging 20% penalty interest on arrears
    • Their sub-prime lending rates
    • Their practice of not passing on rate cuts
    • The Ombudsman’s finding that their early repayment penalties were “unlawful”.
    And when I brought borrowers along to the AGMs to raise their treatment in public, you wrote

    Why did you spring to the defence of Michael Fingleton and the Irish Nationwide whenever they were criticised?
    When a group of members put down a motion of no confidence in Michael Fingleton at the Irish Nationwide AGM in 2003, You celebrated Fingleton’s defeat of the motion in the Sunday Independent, and described those who expressed a lack of confidence as “malcontents” and you attributed ulterior motives to them.
    In October 2008, when The Financial Regulator sanctioned Michael Fingleton’s son for using the state guarantee to attract deposits, you jumped to the defence of the Irish Nationwide and attacked the Financial Regulator. You described the Irish Nationwide as a “soft target” for the Financial Regulator:
    Why did you never criticise the corporate governance of the Irish Nationwide?
    You were relentless in your attack on corporate governance at the EBS. Here is the video from your own website where you are grilling Alan Dukes about the corporate governance of Anglo.

    But you never once criticised Fingleton’s dominance of the Irish Nationwide, a dominance which has cost the taxpayers €5.5billion to date. You never once criticised the fact that such a large institution had only 5 directors, and only three of them were non-executive. When the Financial Director of their largest lending client was appointed to the board, why did you not criticise that?

    In January 2009, you called on the shareholders in Anglo, Irish Life & Permanent, Bank of Ireland and AIB to go to the AGMs and demand the removal of the boards. But again, no criticism of the Irish Nationwide board.

    Why do you claim that you identified banks to be in danger long before most senators?
    [FONT=&quot]This is what you say on your website: [/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]I suppose that is technically true in that you did this before most Senators, but a[/FONT][FONT=&quot]s l[/FONT][FONT=&quot]ate as [/FONT] late as July 28 2008, you suggested:

    As late as September 2008, when Reuters claimed that Irish Nationwide was in talks about its future solvency, you went on national radio to say that the Irish Nationwide was the most profitable and best capitalized of all the banks.

    On 15 September 2008, you described the Reuters story as “nonsense”?
    As Enda Kenny has pointed out, you praised the fact that the Irish Nationwide had increased their gross lending by 72%, but you apparently saw no danger in that.

    When you did eventually criticise Fingleton, it had to be dragged out of you.
    On 24 March 2009, on Prime Time, Mark Little managed to drag the first ever criticism of Fingleton from you, but he had to work hard to do it: You sat quietly and said nothing about the Irish Nationwide. You launched into a tirade of abuse about the EBS and the Bank of Ireland and their upcoming AGMs. You tried hard to muddy the waters and avoid the Irish Nationwide. You allowed Joan Burton speak about the Irish Nationwide.

    Mark Little turned to you and said:

    "Shane. Dan Boyle said today Michael Fingleton has come to personify all that is wrong with Irish Banking"

    You said: "What we are seeing here...what we are confusing all the time...misdemeanours and behaving unethically ...and on the other side ...a raft of bankers who are being paid too much who should all go"

    Little had to ask you straight out "Should Fingleton resign?" You said " Yes, of course. They should all resign"

    But your colleagues on the Sunday Independent continued to give Fingleton’s side of the story
    The following Sunday, 29 March 2009, Your colleague in the Sunday Independent Brendan O’Connor defended Fingleton:
    And in April 2010, another Sunday Independent colleague Liam Collins “exclusively” reported that Fingleton was going to give the €1m to charity

    As of May 2011, The Irish Nationwide has cost the Irish taxpayers €5.5billion and Michael Fingleton has not returned the €1m !

    Yours sincerely

    Brendan Burgess
  2. Brendan Burgess

    Brendan Burgess Founder

    Left blank for Shane Ross's reply
  3. Complainer

    Complainer Frequent Poster

    Let's not forget some other aspects of Shane's support for Fingleton. Here's a direct quote from the April 2003 article.

    So the absence of 'heavyweights on the board' is trivialised as a minor inconvenience. Those who had the foresight to raise this issue at the tiime could see the risks involved in not having proper oversight of Fingleton's increasingly risky lending practices. Shane, who markets himself as a financial expert and scourge of the bankers, either couldn't see this risk, or chose to downplay it deliberately. The taxpayer is now picking up the bill.

    And Shane believed that "Fingleton, for all his faults, has delivered the only thing that matters in business: profit. ". So risk doesn't matter, and ethics don't matter, and governance doesn't matter, and sustainability for the future doesn't matter. Only profit.

    Shane's website tells us "Shane identified bankers as rogues, and banks as in danger long before most Senators…" but on 15th Sept 2008, just two weeks before the State had to mortgage its future to keep Anglo afloat, Shane tells us in this article that the 'false alarm' at Irish Nationwide was nonsense. I guess the €5.5 billion paid over by the State to Nationwide was just nonsense too.

    It's not a big deal when the average man in the street gets this stuff wrong. But when Shane Ross, scourge of the bankers and financial expert, gets this so badly wrong, he should at least have the decency to explain why he continued to support Fingelton so steadfastly, right up to the bitter end.
  4. Brendan Burgess

    Brendan Burgess Founder

    I have just found the Sunday Independent article (March 28,2004) written by Shane Ross to which Enda Kenny referred. I had not realised that Ross had considered Sean Fitzpatrick to be a "superstar".

  5. Sunny

    Sunny Frequent Poster

    I see your open letter got a mention in the Sunday Times yesterday Brendan!
    I think Ross does have serious questions to answer. When people wonder why the banks ended up in the mess they did, they need to question why banks like AIB and BOI deserted their usual banking models to compete with Anglo and Irish Nationwide. The reason is because they were under huge pressure from shareholders to make a return on equity matching that of the other banks. It wasn't helped by Ross having a weekly pop at the two main banks while cheerleading for Fingleton and Fitzpatrick. He then goes and makes a fortune selling a book on bankers and gets elected on the back of his so called tough stance on banks. He is a complete spoofer.
  6. The_Banker

    The_Banker Frequent Poster

    Didn't Michael Fingletons son get a rap on the knuckles after he started canvasing for deposits for INBS in the wake of the Government guarantee in 2008?

    Was Fingletons son appointed due to nepotism? Did Shane Ross query it in any column?
  7. Ceist Beag

    Ceist Beag Frequent Poster

    It's a shame this thread can't be left to the facts as outlined by Brendan, and hopefully some day a response from Shane Ross. All other posts to me are distractions from the points raised in the open letter.
  8. Brendan Burgess

    Brendan Burgess Founder

    Good idea. I have moved this to a new thread

    Shane Ross, nepotism and double jobbing
  9. Brendan Burgess

    Brendan Burgess Founder

    RTE are doing a documentary on Michael Fingleton on Monday night. Unfortunately, I don't think that they are interviewing Shane Ross to ask him these questions.
  10. Brendan Burgess

    Brendan Burgess Founder

    Came across this interesting article which sums it up very well.

    Holier than thou Shane Ross

    Ot quotes an interesting article by Stephen Collins in the Irish Times.

  11. Conan

    Conan Frequent Poster

    I see that Shane Ross could not resist the opportunity to have a pop at Richie Boucher and his salary (with some justification). And he questioned why shareholders approved such a salary when the share price had fallen from €17 to 17 cents. Never did I hear or read the Senator/ TD/ business editor criticise INM and their management for the salaries paid to family members of the main shareholder when their share price has fallen from €10 to 4 cents over the last 5 years.
    And have we heard any criticism of Fingers since he left taxpayers with a bill of €5b. When it comes to hypocracy Shane Ross is in a league of his own.
  12. Tomás Mór

    Tomás Mór Registered User

    I find all this about Ross very interesting. How can he have neck to open his mouth about financial issues, and writing on finance for the Sindo. The man has no cred at all, and if he has any cop on should keep his head down and say nothing.
  13. Delboy

    Delboy Frequent Poster

    He's a politician....they won't have a job if they keep their head down and say nothing
  14. Purple

    Purple Frequent Poster

    He’s a good financial journalist and a brilliant self publicist. That makes him a high profile TD. I find him hypocritical but that notwithstanding he asks questions that the public want asked.
  15. Gerry Canning

    Gerry Canning Frequent Poster

    Mr Ross ,

    He is entitled to change his views.

    He was entitled ,given the information at hand in 2003 to laud Mr Fingleton and his ilk.
    We all forget that we too perceived these people to be masters of our Universe.
    We all thought that our Central Bank Mandarins had a good regulatory handle on these people.

    Today Mr Ross ,given the information at hand is shooting bullets and downing all our Mandarins.

    With any luck, he will today be as wrong as he was in 2003.

    That would mean we are coming out of Bank crisis!.
  16. Brendan Burgess

    Brendan Burgess Founder

    Hi Gerry

    He highlighted overcharging in every other lender except Irish Nationwide, and Irish Nationwide was the worst offender. He has never explained why he didn't highlight their overcharging.

    I publicly expressed the view in 2004 that Fingers was unfit to be the Chief Executive of a financial institution. Many people agreed with me privately. Ross went out of his way to promote Fingers and to attack those of us who challenged him.

    Again, he has never explained why.

  17. Bronte

    Bronte Frequent Poster

    Do you know or do you suspect why he favoured Fingleton?
  18. Brendan Burgess

    Brendan Burgess Founder

    I have no idea.

    It has all the appearance of croneyism, but it can't be that. We all know he is the arch opponent of croneyism.

  19. Gerry Canning

    Gerry Canning Frequent Poster

    I hear you (my memory runs out over time); could it be as simple as he feels the vibes in the Country and runs with it?
    There were people like you raising Red Flags but the consensus was to tell you (killjoys) to shut up.
    If so, he is intelligently dangerous!
  20. SBarrett

    SBarrett Frequent Poster

    Hi Gerry

    I hadn't seen the original post until today and whilst reading it thought 'hindsight is 20/20' but as I read through it, Brendan put up examples from 2007 and 2008. That is ample time for Ross to change his opinion on the running of Nationwide as it had become clear to all that corporate governance wasn't high on the agenda in that building society.

    Very informative letter Brendan. You pieced everything together very well.