Central Bank director urges banks to ensure regulations are followed

The reputation of Ireland Inc has taken a battering, and it is now up to the directors of banks and financial institutions to set an example and ensure regulations are observed, the Central Bank’s director of Enforcement, Peter Oakes, said yesterday.

Central Bank director urges banks to ensure regulations are followed

He was speaking at the Central Bank Enforcement Conference in Galway.

Mr Oakes said there had been an increased level of enforcement activity in the past few years. Between 2006 and 2009, the Central Bank concluded 26 settlement arrangements — averaging 6.5 a year. Between 2010 and this month, this had increased to 30 cases — averaging 10 a year.

Over 65% or €13.3m of the total amount of penalties applied have been handed down over the past three years, including €2m for AIB, €3.5m for the Combined Insurance Company of Europe, €1.96m for Ulster Bank and €3.2m for the Alico Life International LTD.

He said enforcement action had been taken against all sectors within financial services.

Moreover, the threat of greater enforcement increases the level of overall compliance among low impact firms.

He said the purpose of the conference was to educate financial services’ professionals, particularly at a senior level, of their obligations, and the sanctions available in the event financial regulations are breached.

Early settlement in the event of a wrongdoing to the preferred outcome for all parties. But there are cases when settlement is not an option. “Our enforcement role, like that of our UK counterpart and other regulators, is to help change behaviours by making clear that there are real and meaningful consequences for firms who disregards their obligations and break the rules.”

The Central Bank is prepared to move as much as individual company directors as the firm itself in the future, said Mr Oakes.

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