AIB chief Colm Doherty

An AIB whistleblower appealing his dismissal by the bank may call on AIB's new chief Colm Doherty to give evidence when the employment tribunal resumes in late summer.

Days after using the confidential 'speak up' procedure, the identity of whistleblower Brian Purcell, who worked in AIB's capital markets division before his subsequent dismissal for "flagrantly breaching" banking rules, was disclosed to Doherty, who was attending a board meeting in Los Angeles.

Senior counsel for Purcell told a tribunal on Friday that the bank's 'speak up' procedure ought to guarantee the confidentiality of whistle-blowing staff.

But AIB is expected to argue at the next hearing in late August that it was appropriate for senior people, such as Doherty who was then head of the
capital markets division, to be informed about suspected mis-doings in the

Purcell, 38, who admits subsequently accessing the banking accounts of some of his colleagues in the division, says that his sacking was linked to his whistleblowing on 15 February 2008 about "irregular internal accounting" at AIB's capital markets division.

Counsel for AIB said Purcell's dismissal was "fair" and only followed several inquiries and internal appeals after Purcell admitted to a "serious breach" by accessing his colleagues' banking accounts.

The Sunday Tribune reported last week that the banking union IBOA was seeking a review of AIB's 'speak up' policy. Meanwhile, AIB is set to lose out as institutional investors have said they see Irish bank stocks as a play on economic recovery and they are not necessarily prepared to put money into both. Bank of Ireland will go to the markets first.

"There are unresolved questions about AIB among fund managers," said one fund source. "It will be more difficult for AIB down the line because it has a more difficult business case."

"The investment case for AIB is weaker than BOI as the sale of growth businesses will reduce shareholder dilution, but at the cost of profitability," said Dolmen Stockbrokers in a research note last week, which recommended shareholders looking for Irish banking exposure switch from AIB into Bank of Ireland.

There is also some concern among some AIB shareholders that the bank should not sell everything before a rights issue.

"Some would rather be diluted more and keep Poland, than be diluted less and lose Poland," said an institutional source.