Sinn Féin Offaly-Tipperary TD Carol Nolan has called for legislation which criminalises reckless misconduct by banking officials, CEOs, Board Members and their Insurers.
Speaking on the Sinn Féin Central Bank (Amendment Bill) 2018, which had its second stage hearing in the Dáil on Wednesday, Deputy Nolan criticised the "velvet touch" regulation which has defined Central Bank oversight and accountability at the cost of both fiscal probity and ethics.
Speaking on the Private Members Bill, Deputy Nolan stated, “This past decade has seen the stripping of the State’s resources to pay for the sharp practice and duplicity of financial institutions.
"Regrettably, we now know, that public indignation and indebtedness is not enough to bring either institutions or individuals to account, and this can only be achieved by criminalising reckless misconduct. It is critical the Central Bank has at its disposal legal instruments which compel ethical compliance by both firms and individuals," Carol added.
"White collar crime is a convenient euphemism for people of respectability and high social status to hide behind, whilst acting dishonourably in the course of their occupation. White collar criminals played fast and loose, and it cost the citizens of this country 64 billion euro. White collar criminals acted deceptively by extorting money from customers on Tracker Mortgages and; as we speak, white collar criminals are intimidating distressed mortgage holders into voluntary surrendering their homes."
Nolan continued to say, "yet, despite this cycle of crisis and scandal, banks are subject to little more than a rap on the knuckles, a pledge to clean up its act, and payment of a fine, which in most instances represents little more than a couple of weeks profit for the institution."
"Warren Buffett once famously said that, 'you only find out who is swimming naked when the tide goes out.' Well Minister, when the tide went out in 2008 and 2009 we discovered a lot of skinny dippers but we had no law against naked bankers," Carol quipped in the chamber.
"It is incomprehensible that the action of any professional, which has potential to cast every citizen of the State into penury, is above legal accountability. It is incomprehensible that the individuals of any profession, whose actions are financially underwritten by the people, are immune from criminal charges, when they recklessly gamble with the savings and future earnings of the citizens."
"For these reasons, it is imperative that all officials; CEOs, board members and insurers of financial institutions, are legally beyond immunity from prosecution either through acts of commission or acts of omission. They should be held to the highest possible standard of fiscal probity and legally bound by an Oath of Trust which affirms truthfulness; honour and ethical restraint; and which serves the interests of the State with equal regard to the interests of the Institution."
In conclusion Deputy Nolan said, “let us never again expose the citizens of this country to the reckless brinkmanship of unaccountable individuals and corporations."
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