IFSRA report dismissed as ‘whitewash’

THE Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority’s second report into the AIB foreign exchange debacle stopped short of blasting the bank for covering up its past misdemeanours.

It left no doubt, however, that over a period of several years the staff and management knew about it.

Consumer Association spokesman Eddie Hobbs dismissed the report as a whitewash.

It lacked conviction. That was demonstrated by the failure of chief executive Liam O’Reilly to condemn the behaviour as a cover-up. Mr O’Reilly was so sensitive he could not even give the number of staff under investigation, for fear of damaging the legal process underway.

AIB chief executive Michael Buckley took a similar stance.

For Mr Hobbs, that more or less summed up the crux of the matter.

Neither could even confirm the numbers under investigation. Everything was clouded by the “due process” being undergone by employees and executives under investigation within the bank.

It did not convey the message of a watchdog that would act in the interest of the consumer and “the consumer can make up its own mind about the findings of the report,” said Mr Hobbs.

There was no concern for the consumer in all of this. Mr Buckley did acknowledge the bank was embarrassed by this.

“I fully accept the findings” he said.

His major concern was that staff in AIB were afraid to make their concerns known further up the line.

The report was expected to reach serious conclusions and Mr O’Reilly, having put his finding to the media, said “draw your own conclusions.” But that’s what he is supposed to be doing and that was why some thought the whole thing a bit of a sham.

The bottom line is that AIB executives up to senior level in the bank have shown a serious disregard for the regulatory authorities.

They have played fast and loose with serious regulations and displayed serious contempt for the regulatory process.

That is deadly serious. What kind of mad system are we involved in if the man charged with ensuring full compliance with the financial regulatory process cannot actually say what he found in plain simple language?

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