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Central Bank (Amendment) Bill 2018

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Central Bank (Amendment) Bill 2018

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Snippet Contents:

For too long now, velvet touch regulation has been the practice upon which Central Bank oversight and accountability has been determined, at the cost of both fiscal probity and ethics. 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 anger, outrage and suffering are not enough to bring either institutions or individuals to account and this can only be achieved by criminalising reckless misconduct. It is critical that the Central Bank has at its disposal legal instruments which compel ethical compliance by both firms and individuals.
"White-collar crime" is a convenient term for people of respectability and high social status to hide behind while 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. 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 voluntarily surrendering their homes. I have seen too many of those distressed customers in my own offices in Tullamore and Edenderry in Offaly. Those customers are absolutely broken, disheartened and distressed by harassment from banks. We were all elected to serve citizens, not banks or corporations. It is about time that we started to do that. Despite this cycle of crisis and scandal, banks are subject to little more than a rap on the knuckles, a pledge to clean up their 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, "You only find out who is swimming naked when the tide goes out." When the tide went out in 2008 and 2009, we discovered a lot of skinny dippers but we had no law against naked bankers. 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 also 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 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. Let us never again expose the citizens of this country to the reckless brinkmanship of unaccountable individuals and corporations.