THE special manager of Newbridge Credit Union has agreed in the High Court last Wednesday to reduce his fees by €55,000 to cover a six-month period up to January last.
The directors of Newbridge Credit Union had objected to the latest fees sought by Luke Charleton of Ernst & Young which amounted to e563,000 from June 2012 to January 2013.
It was reported in the Irish Times on Thursday that the directors did not object to the reduction in fees.
The Irish Times reported that the credit union chairman Ben Donnelly did not see “how or why so many hours of professional time were required to oversee functions being carried out at a fixed cost by the staff of the credit union”.
It also reported that Mr Charleton said in response ‘that there were significant differences between the manner in which the credit union was run before his appointment and now’.
The total fees arising from the appointment of Mr Charleton since he was appointed to the credit union to protect members savings in January 2012 are expected to exceed €2 million.
The Irish Times also reported that Mr Justice Kearns described the sums as ‘enormous’ from the point of view of a credit union with small depositors and suggested the Central Bank might take a “more active” role as to what fees were appropriate.
Mr Charletown will also receive an additional sum of almost €144,000 to cover fees and expenses for the 12 weeks to April 7 last.
Meanwhile the Minister for Finance, Micheal Noonan has responded to a series of parliamentary questions concerning Newbridge Credit Union asked by local Sinn Fein representative Mark Lynch last week.
The Minister was asked why he ‘endorsed the imposition of a special manager’ on the financially struggling Newbridge credit union at a cost expected to exceed €2 million?
“This action was taken to strengthen Newbridge Credit Union, protect members’ savings and ensure that Newbridge Credit Union can continue to operate effectively, providing financial services to the local community while ensuring,” he said.
“The Special Manager replaces the management and Board of Newbridge Credit Union and his primary role is to establish the financial position and bring forward a business plan.”
The decision to apply to the High Court for the appointment of a Special Manager is a matter for the Governor of the Central Bank, following consultation with me as Minister for Finance.”
The Minister was then asked if the special manager and Ernst & Young ‘had refused to hold an AGM despite public and directors’ requests and a statutory obligation to do so?’.
“The Central Bank of Ireland has informed me that they have discussed with the Special Manager the question of an AGM,” he replied.
“The Special Manager has not refused to hold an AGM. However, as the accounts cannot be signed off without a final resolution either completed or substantially completed there would not be any basis to underpin an AGM.”
Minister Noonan was then asked to clarify ‘the reason the directors, staff or stakeholders of the credit union have not been advised as to the special manager’s role within the credit union’.
“The Special Manager originally had a question and answers document available in the Credit Union and wrote to all members informing them of his appointment and to advise them of his role in Newbridge Credit Union. Updates are provided on the website and he and his team also make themselves available to members.”
The Minister refused to comment however on the amount of fees payable to the Special Manager of Newbridge Credit Union as, at the time on April 16 last, the fees were still subject to an on-going Court process.
- Paula Campbell