THE Financial Regulator “utterly failed” to protect the public from a raft of economic crisis-related scandals last year which heaped further pain onto the public, a leading group has warned.
A review of the watchdog’s performance has heavily criticised its ability to supervise the financial sector, resulting in a series of personal dramas for people.
The 2009 annual report of the Financial Services Consultative Consumer Panel (FSCCP) has warned that members of the public were caused undue hardship last year because of a failure to reform existing debt collection laws.
In addition, it has concluded that the Financial Regulator contributed to the economic crisis by not introducing effective safety measures against new financial products.
The FSCCP – which is made up of a panel of 20 members drawn from the banking, academic and media sectors – is due to be disbanded over the coming months as part of the ongoing reform of the financial regulation system.
As part of this move, the Financial Regulator will merge with the Central Bank to create the Central Bank of Ireland Commission.
However, in one of its final acts, it underlined the widespread belief that poor safety measures in the economic sector led to the financial scandals of recent years, and noted that the public has ultimately been forced to pay the price for these mistakes.
“Those consumers with mortgages, pensions and shares will pay an ongoing price in the coming years for the failure of the Irish regulatory system,” it said. In its assessment of the regulator’s 2008/2009 performance, the panel concluded that too much time has been placed in the willingness of regulated banks to “do the right thing”.
It also noted that the board of the Financial Regulator repeatedly failed to accept they were fully responsible for ensuring such difficulties in the sector were avoided.
The panel also found that the Financial Regulator did not do enough to protect “hard-pressed” consumers from institutions passing on higher mortgage rates in an effort to rebuild their balance sheets, and from concerning practices in late mortgage retrievals which are putting consumer rights under strain.
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