D(r)aft Banking Inquiry Report

December 8, 2015

Firstly, kudos and hats off to the RTE Investigation team unearthing shocking evidence of endemic corruption among local councillors in Ireland, links here (4)blindLeadingBlind

One of the councillors involved, Hugh McElvaney – a four-time mayor of Monaghan, McElvaney, since resigned from Fine Gael, his hands and fingers replete with ornamental gold rings and gold watch, pictured sweeping imaginary bribe money into his many pockets, said it all.

Hard to believe we were not watching an episode from Fr Ted’so Craggy Island.

His performance deserved an Oscar for best iconic performance worldwide for representing corruption.

Hopefully the case will be followed up by the Garda fraud squad and his past activities investigated.

This was not some imaginary banana republic in a far off land, but Ireland in the here and now 2015.

Fianna Fáil councillor Joe Queenan, a businessman and councillor, winked at his business like advice for payment to be made to a partner of his to hide the bribes. For Queenan and McElvaney clearly Ireland is a great place to do business.

“The Mahon Tribunal of Inquiry The Final Report of the Tribunal of Inquiry into Certain Planning Matters and Payments (also known as the Mahon Tribunal) contained a total of 64 recommendations for further consideration in relation to a range of policy areas, as follows: 1. Planning; 2. Conflicts of Interest; 3. Political Finance; 4. Lobbying; 5. Bribery, Corruption in Office, Money Laundering and the Misuse of Confidential Information; 6. Asset Recovery; and 7. Miscellaneous Matters.”(5)

“One of the most significant recommendations being considered is the establishment of an Independent Planning Regulator, who could assume some of the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government’s planning oversight functions and who could also be charged with carrying out investigations into systematic problems in the planning system. This recommendation is accepted in principle. ”

Legislation for this has not been enacted nor is it proposed in the term of the present government.

Currently, if a complaint is made, there is no clear route for a complaint to take. It’s likely to do a merry-go-round tour of government departments. Legal obstacles will impinge on any investigation. There is no white-collar anti corruption unit in Ireland staffed with enough stick to get through the swathes of soft laws protecting the right to privacy, commercial sensitivity, possible defamation or libel obstacles. There is no legislation of a quasi-judicial kind to mount proper investigation of white-collar crime protected with vast resources of legal might

Investigates showed that even today following Mahon ignored by 40% of councillors(6) ”

  • provide for the disclosure of interests, including material interests, which could influence Ministers of the Government, Ministers of State, the Chairs and Vice-Chairs of Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann, the Attorney General, members of the Houses of the Oireachtas, directors of public bodies and public servants, including special advisers, in the performance of their official duties;”

http://www.environ.ie/en/Publications/DevelopmentandHousing/Planning/FileDownLoad,30749,en.pdf

We should look to best practice worldwide with a view to setting up an anti corruption commission in the immediate future before the coming election.

(7)http://www.transparency.org/files/content/corruptionqas/Best_practices_for_anti-corruption_commissions_2.pdf

Transparency International have produced a paper on best practice worldwide for anti corruption commissions.

“The international legal framework advises that such institutions be independent, protected from undue influence and have adequate training and resources to undertake their duties.”

“Anti-corruption commissions are mandated differently depending on country contexts; in 2008 the OECD developed a typology of the existing models:

 The multi-purpose agency represents the most common model of a single-agency approach, combining the aspects of repression and prevention of corruption. This is the model on which are shaped the Hong Kong Independent Commission against Corruption and the Singapore Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau.

 The law enforcement agencies model either combines the three functions of detection, investigation and prosecution of corruption cases, or specialises in detection/ investigation or prosecution. This model is the most common in Western Europe.

 The preventive, policy development and coordination institutions focus more on corruption related research, coordination of anti-corruption policies and action plans, monitoring conflict of interest regulations, elaboration of codes of conduct, facilitation of trainings, etc. This is a model that can be found in France, India, Albania and Montenegro, for example.”

Hopefully we will get an agency “combines the three functions of detection, investigation and prosecution of corruption cases, or specialises in detection/ investigation or prosecution.” That would have the powers to investigate along the lines of the RTE investigation team, then follow-up with prosecutions of the likes of Hugh McElvaney and Joe Queenan.where_does_all_the_money_go___pavel_constantin

Banking Inquiry:

Look, all they had to do was examine the loan book and follow the money. The money can be summed up in one word, “bonus”.

As stated in earlier blogs, a quick audit of the 10 largest loans describing in detail the bonuses given to those who managed those loans would have shown the bonus culture feeding frenzy that led to financial meltdown.

Of course behind the bonuses was the even darker world of bribes and corruption.

With modern technology all loans handed out in the Celtic Tiger era could be audited and investigated for patterns and loops and of course, bonuses!

The bonus culture virus infected all levels in all of the banks. It led to turning a blind eye to dodgy loans. It became so endemic that throwing caution to the winds meant you saved your job while prudent risk management meant you risked losing your job.

It was a feeding frenzy bought into by government, banking employees and management, even the Regulator and Central Bank. No q’s asked by Regulator, ECB, government.

The ECB refused to cooperate with the inquiry.

Unfortunately (1)”Irish people decided in a referendum in 2011 not to give parliamentary committees the power to make adverse findings against individuals”. An array of political and legal restraints hobbled the inquiry from the start.

(2)”Conducting this kind of Oireachtas inquiry as opposed to a Levinson-type quasi-judicial examination has brought its fair share of criticism, because of the limitations such a move involves.

Those limitations, now coming to the fore, are significant and descriptions of the inquiry being ‘toothless’ are valid.

The internal documents given by advisers, legal and economic, contain a myriad of restrictions and limitations which will have the cumulative effect of rendering the ability of members to ask the kind of probing detailed questions required as non-existent.”

Absurdly, the daft draft can be legally challenged by interested parties. Its gone out to them to see if they are happy enough with the whitewash. Only then can it be published in its current form. We wont discuss all the heavily redacted docs they got to see.

“However, Fianna Fáil TD Michael McGrath said that there are huge limitations on what the inquiry can actually say.

(3)”If I believe somebody acted recklessly during the banking crisis, and if that question as put to that person in the course of evidence and they denied acting recklessly, then it’s not open to the committee to actually conclude that person acted recklessly,” he said.”

It might adversely impact on their name and reputation? Absurd, but white-collar crime gets an unprecedented level of protection and its crimes are well hidden.

Don’t ask if it should be given to acting politicians the task to investigate white-collar crime. The Irish public in 2011 in a referendum decided it would be unwise to do so. Ignoring this Irish politicians arrogated to themselves the very method rejected democratically by the electorate.

Having bought into the compromised inquiry in the first place, Pearse Doherty and Joe Higgins wish to occupy the high moral ground and accept political plaudits by refusing to sign off on it. Spare us all from wasting all our time. Reductio Ad absurdum. Their time on the inquiry would have been better spent advocating for a full judicial inquiry given the full powers it required.

More and more democracy is being eroded. Parliamentary democracy in Ireland is becoming more and more toothless eroded and corroded by decisions taken elsewhere in the financial and banking sector. Stamped by puppet so-called parliamentarians confidence in politicians at an all time low.

The result is homelessness, a generation of young people who cannot or will not be able to find or afford a home.

The destruction of free market capitalism in Ireland continues with the shocking proposal the state bad bank NAMA’s proposal to deliver a €7.4bn development programme involving 20000 new homes in Dublin and elsewhere and 3.8 million square feet of office space in Dublin. NAMA is a state bad bank and not a developer acting in the manner of a state housing association under the USSR during the cold war in Russia. Socialism for the banks is becoming the new norm.

NAMA must be one of the most secretive bad banks in the world protected with a raft of legislation from prying eyes to hide from Freedom of Information legislation with transparency a ridiculed joke.

Developers in Ireland “The NAMA scheme favours NAMA and NAMA-supported developers over non-supported developers”. NAMA has sold vast tracts of commercial and residential property to vulture funds allowing them to corner the rent/lease market and support maximizing upward only rents.

A false floor to residential properties lending has been engineered through shortages to maintain high level lending to fill bank coffers. The present government has built nothing.

White collar crime and socialism for the banking sector means as it did in the Soviet era, a crackdown by means of non disclosure, censorship, secrecy. Suddenly government announce an extra couple of billion due from corporation tax blindness.

We have no access to audited accounts detailing the source of this rise in income. Speculation on this blog is that a large amount of the increase comes from the collapse of the euro against the dollar, MNC’s deal in the dollar so any fall in the euro means more CT.

But wonders if MNC’s are declaring more because of imminent investigations at European level into CT. And if under declaration, should not an anti corruption task force investigate if under declaration or other tax avoidance has occurred in the past.

We thrive while the euro dives. Latest economic setback for the EMU is  abolition of the Schengen agreement for the next 2 years.

The cornerstone of European economic unity was Schengen allowing a truck driver from Cork travel unhindered to Poland and beyond within EMU without border stops and border check delays. This will impact severely on trade in the EMU. Clearly design flaws in the euro have come home to roost and it’s not at all clear if the euro project can succeed and overcome its present challenges without dissolution on the table.

Irish water is silent on projects to harness all the flood water, build the lakes, storm drains, reservoirs needed for the future now it has lost its ticket to the billions it otherwise would have sought on the commercial borrowing markets. Its time to abandon that project and restore that enterprise locally under new democratic powers given to the Board of Works.

Hospitals and A&E’s remain underfunded under more risk of closure than development. The austerity programme is in full sail. Irish government pawns of the ECB are clearly at a loss what to do next.

 

till next time

 

(1)   http://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/banking-inquiry-hobbled-from-start-by-legal-restrictions-1.2456552

(2)  http://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/banking-inquiry-those-hoping-for-full-disclosure-will-be-let-down-30835708.html

(3) http://www.wexfordecho.ie/2015/11/23/mcgrath-banking-inquiry-will-meet-over-christmas-if-necessary/

(4) http://www.rte.ie/news/2015/1207/751733-investigations-unit/

(5) http://www.environ.ie/en/Publications/DevelopmentandHousing/Planning/FileDownLoad,30749,en.pdf

(6) http://hr.per.gov.ie/overview-of-the-ethics-acts/

(7) http://www.transparency.org/whatwedo/answer/best_practices_for_anti_corruption_commissions

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: