Michael Fingleton Montenegro
Michael Fingleton is planning to rise Phoenix like from the ashes of the Irish poperty bust. His newest venture, however, is not to be in his homeland. It will entail the asset to which he clung with his very life when times got really tough, the old Hotel Fjord on the beautiful bay of Kotor in Montenegro. Hence the Michael Fingleton Montenegro heading on this post. In 2011 High Court proceedings in Dublin, Fingleton had listed the development site as his most valuable asset, valuing it at €4m.
Fingleton, the major shareholder in the New Fjord Development venture, had experience significant problems with moving the project forward, not least with his minority partner in the development – Louis Maguire, owner of United Entertainment Partners Montenegro – who successfully petitioned to have the company declared bankrupt.
Debtors in Ireland accused the former bank boss of moving up to €500k to a Montenegrin bank account just days after a judgement was given in favour of Ulster Bank for €13.6m.
Fingleton is, of course, best known in Ireland as the former boss of the now defunct Irish Nationwide Building Society which was bailed out with €5.4bn of funds for which the Irish taxpayer is still paying. There are many who hold Irish Nationwide, and other financial institutions like it in Ireland, entirely responsible for the country’s property related boom and subsequent bust.
There was considerable consternation in Ireland when Fingleton drew a €1m ‘performance bonus’ in 2009, despite Irish Nationwide being insolvent, posting losses of over €200m. When pressed on the matter Fingleton declared that he would return the bonus, but failed to do so. In 2011, Irish Finance minister Michael Noonan called for the money to be returned, but the call fell on deaf ears.
In a story on Montenegrin news portal, Vijesti, this morning (May 31st 2013) Fingleton was pictured leaving the offices of the mayor of Kotor, Marija Ćatović, and is quoted on his plans for the old Hotel Fjord development site. You can see a picture of the derelict site at the bottom of this post.
Michael Fingleton Montenegro – Montenegrin Newspaper Article
Below is a loose translation of the article in the Montenegrin newspaper:
Meeting of Mayor Maria Ćatović and CEO of New Fjord Developments Ltd.
CEO of New Fjord Developments Ltd. Michael Fingleton and his associates have met the mayor of the Kotor Municipality Maria Ćatović.
Fingleton announced that a group of architects in London had been charged to design a project for a new hotel “Fjord”. The project is planned to be completed by September, when it will be presented to representatives of the Municipal Government and Administration for Cultural Heritage protection.
“I am very pleased with the fact that, after seven years, the project of new hotel “Fjord” construction has moved on. It will be a modern, highly ranked hotel (with at least 4 stars), which with its appearance and dimensions will fit the environmental and natural characteristics of the UNESCO protected area. New Fjord Developments Ltd. has settled all taxes, surtaxes and other financial obligations to the municipality, so we’re looking forward to September and to the announced presentation of the new hotel project,” said Mayor Ćatović after the meeting.
New Fjord, as major shareholder, has paid to the creditors total €125,000, the cost of bankruptcy procedures of over €55,000, provided and paid the necessary resources for New Fjord functioning and in the coming period will invest over €400,000 to the Company to start with hotel “Fjord” project.
Also, the major founder Michael Fingleton can now control the Company, operations of which were blocked until recently because of the actions of the minor founder (UEP Montenegro doo) which refused to cooperate and deal with the major founder.
“A contract is signed with the contractor who will take all the necessary construction works to protect old hotel Fjord from further deterioration. We hired an architect from London who is currently working on a new project of hotel Fjord, we have also contacted hotel operators, in order to be better prepared to construction works,” said Fingleton.
He announced the meeting with Director of Public Utility Company “Kotor”, with which an agreement on use of the space in front of the old “Fjord” as a temporary parking lot is supposed to be reached.
Following the publication of this piece the Irish version of the Sunday Times carried a version of the story on Sunday June 10th.
Following the ST piece I was in contact with Louis Maguire who claims that he still has a 25% interest in the land on which the remains of the current Hotel Fjord stands. He claims Michael Fingleton can execute no plans on the site without his permission, which is not forthcoming. He also claims that he is taking Mr. Fingleton’s ‘day of reckoning’ is coming as he is personally taking him through the courts in Montenegro on what he terms ‘very serious criminal charges’ of ‘fraud, money laundering & deception’. Maguire claims that he raised a ‘red flag’ with Montenegrin authorities in 2008 on the source of Mr. Fingleton’s estimated €5.5m in finance for the project. He claims that this funding was illegally taken from INBS and was not Fingleton’s to invest in the project.
Mr. Maguire promised to forward documentary evidence backing up these assertions but these documents have not, to date, been forthcoming. If they are at some stage in the future I’ll put links to them here. In the interim we’ll have to give Michael Fingleton the benefit of the doubt and take at face value his claim that he is about to embark on a long-awaited rebuild of the Hotel Fjord complex, that he has the wherewithal and the legal right to do so.
It should also be noted that Mr. Maguire and his UEP company have been accused of fraud, although not yet in a court of law to be best of my knowledge.
Further Update: There is an update on proceedings against Michael Fingleton in Montenegro here.
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