According to the Irish Financial Regulator one of its main tasks is to –
Help consumers to make informed decisions on their financial affairs in a safe and fair market.
This promise has a hollow ring to it in light of the latest rip off by an Irish bank.
Rip offs by Irish financial institutions have become so common now that when news of the latest ‘overcharging’ by Ulster Bank (2nd item) was reported yesterday, the regulator didn’t even bother to make comment.
Over the last 15/20 years Irish banks have ‘overcharged’ their customers (victims) by a massive €167 million. Only a fool would believe that these activities are all down to ‘error’ rather than deliberate and well organised scams.
Despite this, not a single bank has ever been punished by the Financial Regulator. Not a single bank official has ever been questioned by the police never mind actually charged with criminal behaviour.
Michael Kilcoyne of the Consumers Association of Ireland suggested that there should be a fine of several million Euro imposed on these organisations. (RTE News, 3rd item) He is obviously unaware that the regulator already has the power to impose a fine of up to €5 million on errant financial institutions. But even this pathetic fine, which equates to about two days profits for the larger banks, has never been imposed by the regulator.
Not only does the regulator refuse to punish banks, it also affords them valuable protection through a policy of total secrecy regarding their many dodgy activities.
Consumers rely solely on the media or whistleblowers for information to help them make informed decisions on their financial affairs in a corrupt and secretive financial market.