The top man in
the Bank of Ireland has had to resign in disgrace after he was caught accessing
adult sex sites on his office computer at the bank's headquarters in Dublin.
Chief executive Mike Soden used his personal computer in his luxurious private
office on the seventh floor to access a Las Vegas escort agency prior to going
on a business trip to the US.
The trip never happened, but the top man in Ireland's second largest financial
institution paid the price for his indiscretion by falling on his sword
He quit his $1.96m a year job after using his office PC to first visit the site
using the Google internet search engine at around 3pm on April 2. The site was
also said to have been accessed on subsequent days.
The internet misuse was revealed nearly two months later when the bank's
computer department was checking the way the internet was being used by
Mr Soden admitted: "It was a silly incident. It was unfortunate and I am paying
a high price for it. I regret it enormously. It was foolish.
"More than anything else I regret the hurt caused to my wife, the staff and the
bank's shareholders. It was a case of curiosity killed the cat. The content
accessed was not illegal but did contain links to material of an adult nature."
Mr Soden, a married man, is a member of the K Club in - Ireland's most exclusive
golf club and the venue for the 2005 Ryder Cup.
He lives in one of Dublin's most exclusive neighbourhoods, Mespil Road,
Ballsbridge, in a home he and his wife Lou bought for over $2.4m from Dunnes
Stores supermarket chain heir Michael Heffernan.
A Bank of Ireland spokeswoman would not comment on whether the sites accessed on
Mr Soden's computer were soft or hard porn but stressed that they were not
"It is an internal matter. It is not relevant what exact sites Mr Soden visited
on his computer," she added, stressing that the sites were not illegal.
The revelations are a huge embarrassment for a bank that was once regarded as
the most conservative financial institution in Ireland.
Ironically it did nothing to dampen enthusiasm for the bank's shares, which rose
by 4% in the days after the affair made headline news on all the Irish news
Earlier this year, Bank of Ireland scapped a plan to financially back a British
porn magazine group, which was preparing a flotation on the London Stock
Exchange, following strong protests against the bank's involvement.