Banking inquiry: Toothless regulators

THERE was little enough unexpected in the evidence given by former financial regulator Patrick Neary to the Banking Inquiry yesterday. 

It did however underline one cultural issue. Mr Neary, like everyone else, was dependent on the bodies he was responsible for regulating — the wretched banks — for the information he needed to do his job properly.

In hindsight, that great leveller, that relationship was dependent on a degree of trust that was misplaced.

Mr Neary was not given all of the information that might have led to policies that might have averted nearly a decade of very difficult economic circumstances.

Maybe he should have had the powers, or the expertise, needed to properly test the banks’ data but he did not.

This is a recurring theme in our public life. We make laws, establish authorities but do not give these offices the resources needed to do their job and offer effective, reliable regulation.

We saw that weakness recur earlier this week when we reported that the charities’ regulator was not in a position to investigate allegations against a charity.

The inquiry heard too that Mr Neary is reported to have received a pay-off €630,000 and an annual pension of €114,000.

These enviable figures underline the different worlds faced by public and private sector employees just at the very moment it seems that the entirely appropriate public sector pension levy is about to be scrapped.

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