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Central Bank (Amendment) Bill 2018

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Central Bank (Amendment) Bill 2018

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Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett

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Snippet Contents:

I commend Sinn Féin on introducing the Bill. I fully agree with the proposed measure to establish that it would be a criminal offence for banks to lie or give misleading information to the Central Bank of Ireland and to impose sanctions of up to €250,000 in fines and-or five-year prison sentences. This is welcome legislation because people are fed up to the back teeth of there being one law for the bankers and the rich and another for the rest of us. The utter failure and unwillingness of the political establishment to rein in the greed of the banks, their mistreatment of customers and their reckless behaviour, which crashed the entire economy as they financed a wild speculative bubble that presaged the economic crisis and resulted in the imposition of a decade of austerity and misery.
We must go much further than the measures proposed in the Bill. As Deputy Paul Murphy stated, not only is the State unwilling to control the greed of the banks but there is no way of doing so, as was evident in the years leading up to the economic collapse and has been evident in the years since. Even when the then Government was forced to nationalise the banks, it refused to exercise any control over their behaviour, including how they treated people in mortgage distress. The tracker scandal is the most recent example of this behaviour. Everything this Government and its predecessors did was focused on nursing the banks back to their position prior to the crisis. The disgraceful decision to privatise them again and allow them to flog off mortgages to vulture funds freed them to do it all over again. Today, The Irish Times reports that further mortgages with a value of €11 billion are to be flogged off to vulture funds by Allied Irish Banks, Permanent TSB and Lloyds Bank. The decision of the National Asset Management Agency to flog to the vulture funds loans valued at €40 billion led directly to the current housing emergency. There has been no willingness on the part of the Government to exercise control over the banks. Instead, it has chosen to nurse them back to health to do what they did all over again.
In the few moments remaining to me, I will highlight one issue about which I asked Deputy Doherty. While the Bill refers to section 33AT of the Central Bank and Financial Services Authority of Ireland Act, it does not amend or delete the section. The section establishes in legislation that there is one law for the bankers and another for the rest of us. It states as follows: This express provision means that if a small fine is imposed on bankers for misbehaviour, they cannot be prosecuted. The bankers have avoided going to jail because we have, written in the relevant Act, a different law for bankers who engage in criminal activity from the law that applies to other citizens.