A Bank audit that hit its target

Listening to Brian Goggin on RTE this evening reminds me of the bizarre circumstances of his appointment.

He was expected to take the top job in 2001 but an outsider, Mike Soden, got the job. Goggin was moved sideways but his ambitions were renewed when an IT **audit **showed that Soden had used a bank PC to access an adult website prior to a trip to Las Vegas. So don’t click on this link if you’re at work. :wink: lasvegas-escorts.com

For the only time in Irish bank history, an audit had caught a senior executive with their hand in the till (in a manner of speaking :stuck_out_tongue: )

How Soden came to be targetted for this audit was a matter of great interest at the time . Indeed, the Sunday Times assured us that


Somehow Brian found new priorities, like borrowing shedloads of money from abroad and giving it to developers. We heard no more about that “ongoing investigation”. There was a theory that disgruntled IT staff who were outsourced to HP were behind it. Maybe.


Does anyone out there have the inside track?

I have no insight into this. But, a couple of years ago, I worked for a multi-national that let go of a number of employees due to inapropriate emails (obviously not me). I know a number of high-up employees didn’t suffer a similar fate though also guilty.

There is so much filth flying around the workplace; regular folk are oblivious to this, just like they were to house prices. They can’t fathom how, in the workplace, IT can access anything you look at.

…I think someone pointed out at the time that it was refreshing that a banker had been caught with his hand in his own pocket, rather than in his customers.

Anyone else getting a sweet nostalgic feeling for a time when bankers only screwed their customers, the revenue and the occasional exotic dancer - rather than screwing their shareholders, the exchequer and the financial system.

Happy days.

Didn’t he shaft the IT dept at that time, and they monitored his web usage and reported him to HR or something as revenge?
Thought that is how it went down.

There was quite a lot of fluff in the press at the time suggesting that it was revenge. It wasn’t, it was simply a response to hypocrisy. A memo was put out by Soden that set out the Banks conditions on Internet usage by staff. It correctly stated that excessive usage of the Internet was a cost to the Bank not in the simple terms of connection fees but in the misuse of time, if I remember it also stated that the policy was similar to that in place for use of the Banks telephones. All very reasonable except that the level of sanction had risen considerably. The memo made it clear that that this could be a sackable offence - particularly if ‘inappropriate’ material were accessed. ‘Inappropriate’ was left to the discretion of the Bank. IT were actually asked to ‘anonymously’ monitor usage to see whether any Bank employees were looking at anything dodgy. Within a matter of hours the answer was ‘Yes’. When this was communicated to Management the answer was ‘Who’ to which the answer was - ‘well it was anonymous’. The answer was - ‘No - we asked who - can you find out?’. To which the answer was ‘We can - do you really want to know?’. No decent employee will skin a fellow at or below their level - the immediate target was those above the people doing the job and in different departments. When that list was filtered one name stood above all others. At this point there was nothing management could do - the cat was out of the bag - they knew that IT knew more than they knew. I suspect Soden didn’t have many friends in the management tier either. I think the man was a fool, when I read his recent pronouncements I still think the man is a fool. He would have been no better than the fools that manage BOI now - if you are dumb enough to browse a Las Vegas Escort site shortly after threatening your staff with the sack if they do something similar (I guarantee any staunch IBOA member browing the above would have been gone) then you deserve the crap Karma.

So it had nothing to do with the fact that Soden wanted to outsource the IT functions?

I was working in BOI at the time and remember the emails from Mike Soden that used to come around warning us of unauthorised internet usage…we found it hilarious when he was found guilty of surfing adult websites.

Of course they can, but we’re human so we do it anyway, same way we know smoking kills us, drinking gives us liver damage, fatty food makes us fat . . .

WHAT! LINK!!! :mrgreen:

To be perfectly honest I don’t think it did - the possibility of outsourcing predated Soden and outlived him. IT people are generally smart, they deal in facts and they hate people who are dishonest with the facts - hypocrisy is a pretty high crime in the IT book. Remember Soden resigned , he was not fired and probably would not have been fired by the Bank (well - just have a look at the state of management in the Bank at the moment). Remember also that Sodens name was not the only one on the list, as far as I know there were only a few on the list who were actually surfing dodgy sites - most were reprimanded for circulating smutty jokes and pretty low grade pictures/videos - which had probably originated from surfers outside the Bank. Stupidity also ranks high in the IT list - and by doing what he did Soden quite definitely showed himself to be stupid - and he resigned out of embarrassment at this stupidity not out of guiilt.

I think the Banks attitude in this was also a contributor - see what you can find, we’ll have a look at the list. There was an implication that if they found anybody on that list that they wanted to get rid of (slackers, union bigmouths, whistleblowers) then that would be a good place to start. The thing is once the list was seen with Sodens name on it there was going to be no way on earth of keeping it quiet. IT people are generally discreet but there are moments when they become slavering gossips as much as the next person.

Around the time that he got the boot, I remember reading one editorial (can’t remember where) that spelled out the real reasons for his departure and it was because the share price was not growing and the bank were perceived to be losing market share. The IT stuff was just cover.

Don’t worry it doesn’t, it’s a common misconception. Excess calories make you store fat. Fats are essential to a healthy diet.

Sorry for going OT


Edit:-spellinsges :stuck_out_tongue:

Yippee … I must have a very very very healthy diet :smiley:

As a matter of interest, where was the share price at that time, and how soon before Goggin is found surfing something equally inappropriate 8)

Just had a quick look at lasvegas-escorts.com and didnt see anything there that someone should resign or be sacked for. Escorts and prostitution is legal around the Las Vegas area so Soden wasnt doing anything wrong.

Every company Ive worked in, every single employee used the internet for non work related activities. Shopping, holiday planning, YouTube etc. To single out sexual activity, where nothing illegal or offensive to other staff has happened, is backward and childish.


AFAIK, based on conversations with people who worked “closely” with some of the individuals involved, the “offence” wasn’t so much picked up in an audit as highlighted by disgruntled IT staff who were unhappy about the outsourcing arrangement the bank had made with a third party and their resultant transfer to that third party.

Lesson: Don’t piss off the techies, especially the ones with the internet access logs.

Of course, when you leave the office and surf from the comfort and privacy of your own house, your home ISP may be logging your internet usage patterns too … there is a EU directive about it …

Tinfoil hat anyone?

As for whether you can get sacked for viewing something that is “legal”; subject to your contract, Yes, you can if it breaches a published corporate “Electronic Communications Policy”. Use of a company utility (telephone, fax, internet) would be provided to assist you in the execution of your role/job, as a courtessy, the company may extend the utilisation for personal use, within reason.

Blue Horseshoe

(My emphasis above)
He was actually doing something wrong by his own criteria - he was the originator, and the signatory, of the email that explicitly banned that behaviour. It is reasonable for you or I to argue that there is nothing wrong with that behaviour but Sodens view , as expressed in the email, was that misuse of the companies internet access would be treated as an actionable offence.

Interesting responses but it still smells to me.

So no one squealed on anyone except on the capo de capi? I dont buy it, Metal, if Soden was simply caught up in a general trawl, others would have lost their jobs (or do you think gambling is the preserve of top bankers :stuck_out_tongue: )

It may be that the techies had it in for him, but do you think for one moment they could have brought him down without support from the top levels of management.

Soden was busy sending out memos for IT usage. Was he an obsessive or was someone in corporate affairs sticking draft memo.s under his nose which he could hardly refuse to sign so as to hoist him on his own petard?

My question remains - what did Goggin do with his “priority investigation” into this affair?

The Directive has not yet become Irish law. It was within a couple of days of being signed into law as a Statutory Instrument in November but the AG got cold feet. In fairness it was a dog and possibly unconstitutional in its SI form. So now it’s going to be primary legislation “soon”.

However, it specifically will not empower ISPs to monitor which websites you look at, just what your IP address was at a particular time, and various details of email headers (but not their content). Meh.

I admit I’m a little disappointed that some of the BoI staff lurking on this site have not offered some insights here. Perhaps when 10 or 15 thousand of you have been laid off thanks to the geniuses who lead you, then we might try to work out where it all went wrong (and which of your leaders should be in the 'Joy) 8)

Clearly Goggin was the winner in 2004 and, contrary to BoI’s media spin, he had no intention of “investigating” the circumstances that had gifted him the top job.

Maybe this is just a story about one greedy banker being shafted by other greedy bankers. But there may be a bigger issue. Was Soden shafted because he upset the applecart? Did his enemies have other plans for BoI which have lead to the current fiasco? Certainly, Soden’s departure was quickly followed by the orgy of foreign borrowings which is at the root of the problems with our banks. It may be that Soden’s departure marked the start of the Irish property bubble.

Clearly, Soden made many enemies within BoI who would have happily shafted him, including the IT guys who ran the audit. Taking free cars and newspapers off management was just not cricket :stuck_out_tongue: That is always the fate of costcutters like Soden but normally they have the enthusiastic backing of the Board and shareholders.

Mike’s bid for Abbey National was a failure but he was nothing if not ambitious and he succeeded in creating BoI’s link with the UK Post Office:rte.ie/business//2003/1008/boi.htmlMore importantly, BoI’s 2003 results were good and the market was very positive about BoI in the Spring of 2004 [Bank of Ireland shares closed up 29 cent at €10.59 in Dublin.](Bank of Ireland shares closed up 29 cent at €10.59 in Dublin.)While his record was not unblemished, it is clear that Soden was not a lame duck being dispatched by the Board using a neat stunt with the geeks.

My impression is that Soden was the target of a coup at the highest levels, using the geeks’ dissatisfaction. As an outsider, he had ruffled too many feathers. He was a cost-cutter who failed to grasp the rules of the game in a cozy, feather-bedded, duopoly.

The last straw, the issue that may have triggered the coup, was his idea to merge with AIB. This was a bold idea from an international perspective, creating a big Irish bank to compete in Europe and globally, but it was a direct challenge to the AIB/BoI duopoly which had operated so profitably for decades.

Mike never understood Irish banking or, if he did, he thought he could turn into something very different, a force on the European banking scene. He knew that BoI had

and thought he could convert this into an international business. The sorry truth is that these returns were monopoly rents in a country where the banks were above the law. (as demonstrated by the DIRT Enquiry gov.ie/committees-99/c-publicaccounts/sub-rep/default.htm).

When AIB and BoI went outside their turf, they were always liable to fiasco. Step forward John Rusnak. :unamused:

Mike came out of hiding last October to refloat the merger idea. It may prove to be prophetic, but Soden didn’t envisage a nationalised bank! I’ll bet Soden is willing come forward with further ideas along these lines. We haven’t heard the last of Mike Soden and his shafting may have been a milestone in Irish banking.