Regulatory Agencies

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Once again AIB has ‘accidentally’ overcharged customers.

After investigating itself the bank concluded that the whole affair was just a minor incident, an accident.

The standard apology was issued and customers were assured that nobody would be out of pocket.

Happy days.

Except for the inconvenient fact that AIB is one of the most corrupt financial institutions in the state with a long record of criminality, which saw the theft of countless millions from customers, and the State.

Since the economic collapse in 2008 citizens have been constantly assured by politicians, government officials and bankers that a new dawn in financial regulation has arrived.

Going forward, we were told, the Financial Regulator would regulate with an iron fist, immediate and searching investigations would be conducted at the slightest hint of wrong doing, the law would be forcibly applied without mercy to protect the consumer.

With this in mind I rang the so-called new Financial Regulator this afternoon to ask about its involvement in this latest ‘accident’ by AIB.

No, (The Financial Regulator is not involved) AIB is investigating the matter and when completed and everything is resolved there would be no reason for the Financial Regulator to intervene.

We don’t’ know exactly what the situation is, it may be just a computer glitch, we don’t have a lot of information on exactly what the situation is.

We are aware that some people have been overcharged but no doubt they will be reimbursed.

So here’s the reality. The so-called ‘new’ Financial Regulator is operating in exactly the same manner as the previous regulator. That is, it’s not actually regulating at all.

The banks are still allowed to investigate themselves and if that results in the theft of millions, well tough shit, customers will just have to suck it up.

Copy to:
Central Bank

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I laughed last week when I turned on the radio and heard somebody say (yet again) that the country/economy had turned a corner.

I laughed even more when I listened to the Garda Inspectorate, Robert Olsen; tell the nation that the recent ‘problems’ within our police force was nothing more than a ‘systems failure’. (Morning Ireland, Thursday 13 March).

Clearly, Mr. Olsen is a newcomer to Ireland and is therefore completely unaware of how obnoxious that particular phrase is to the people of Ireland.

For decades we’ve heard the phrase trotted out to explain the rampant corruption within practically every department of government.

We’ve heard it used to cover up and facilitate the widespread (and still ongoing) theft by banks and other financial institutions of countless millions from the State and customers.

We’ve heard it used to explain away the child abuse holocaust and subsequent cover up perpetrated by the Catholic Church.

And now, Mr. Olsen wants us to believe that the widespread corruption within our police force is nothing more than a ‘systems failure’.

In common with all those who have used this obnoxious and insulting excuse in the past, Mr. Olsen is talking bullshit.

And although Mr. Olsen is only new to our corrupt culture it seems he has already become adept at defending those who operate within that corrupt culture.

Here’s a portion of the interview he gave on Morning Ireland in which he was clearly caught out but still managed, in the great Irish tradition of calling a spade a shovel, to wriggle out of an awkward situation.

Your report says it was mismanagement (not corruption) how did you arrive at that conclusion.

The Garda Inspectorate’s remit is not about investigating wrong doing. We did an inspection of the processes and we didn’t go into and it’s not our role to do investigations of individual incidents that may or may not have been more than mismanagement.

If it’s not your job to find out whether there was corruption or not, how can you say that there wasn’t corruption?

Well I can say it because that’s not what we had looked for.

You’re saying it’s not your job to look for it?

It was a systems failure.

If it wasn’t corruption, was it incompetence?

Well, I think it’s mismanagement, we’re very clear on mismanagement and you can take that wherever you want.

So lets’ just focus on one particular answer give my Mr. Ollsen to see if there’s any logic whatsoever to his reply

Question: If it’s not your job to find out whether there was corruption or not, how can you say that there wasn’t corruption?

Answer: Well I can say it because that’s not what we had looked for.

No, not a shred of logic to that answer; does not make sense in any manner or form. So it seems that Mr. Olsen has cottoned on to another great Irish tradition – whatever you say, say nothing and, of course, that’s exactly what Mr. Olen was saying – nothing.

And when somebody like Mr. Olsen says nothing he is, effectively, supporting his boss the Minister for Justice and Garda Commissioner, Martin Callinan.

And in supporting these men, who clearly have many questions to answer, Mr. Olsen is in danger of placing himself and his office in the same place as every other so-called regulatory/advisory agency in this country – on the side of the system rather than the side of objective analysis.

Mr. Olsen’s loyalty to his boss was confirmed at the end of the interview when he was asked did he think the whistleblowers were vindicated.

He refused to give a straight answer. Now let’s be clear here, there is absolutely no problem with Mr. Olsen simply expressing what is a clear fact, what every reasonable person believes – that these brave whistleblowers are indeed vindicated men.

The fact that he refused to give a straight answer suggests that Mr. Olsen is reluctant to cause any offence to his boss, the Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter.

By refusing to give a straight answer it seems that Mr. Olsen is faithful to another great Irish tradition – loyalty to the boss, to the system, above all else.

Mr. Olsen is new to his job, he’s new to this country but Irish citizens should not rest easy in their minds that he is loyal to their interests.

His use of the discredited ‘systems failure’ excuse and his loyalty to his boss make him, at the very least, suspect.

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Robert Olsen
Alan Shatter
Martin Callinan

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The following quotes are taken from an Oireachtas debate on October 22 2008.

The current Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter, is strongly criticising the then Minister for Justice, Dermot, Ahern, after the publication of the Morris Tribunal which dealt with corruption in the Gardai.

The point to note is that when a body politic is corrupt, as ours is, it doesn’t matter who’s in power when corruption is uncovered.

The sitting minister simply waffles in defence of the corrupt system while his opposite number makes the obligatory noises about accountability and transparency.

When power changes the roles are simply reversed and the corrupt system remains firmly in place.

Everybody knows and obeys the golden rule – You may waffle all day about corruption but you must never, ever actually act on the matter as that would be damaging to the interests of all who prosper within the corrupt system.

Shatter’s comments are, effectively, comments about himself.

(My emphasis in the quotes)

My only conclusion is that the Minister is a political gurrier unfit to hold ministerial office.

The speech delivered by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform in the House this morning and the attack by him on a Member of this House and a former Member was a disgrace.

To make that his main offering on the Morris report shows the level of political stupidity to which the Minister can descend.

I was the Fine Gael spokesperson on justice in the 12-month period leading in to the formation of the Morris tribunal… and formed my own view that there was a need for a public inquiry.

I emphasised on that occasion the importance of such an inquiry… in the public interest in order to restore confidence in the force.

I said at the time that these matters should not have been left festering.

On that occasion, the then Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform kicked essentially to touch.

I then made the point in this House that a banana republic would not deal with an issue as serious as this in such a manner.

In my view, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Deputy Dermot Ahern, is not only unfit to hold the office he holds, but he should resign.

(His) Arrogance is extraordinary.

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Last Tuesday Pat Kenny (59 Min) interviewed an official from the Revenue Commissioners on how the organisation intended tracking down those homeowners who were suspected of cheating on their property tax obligations.

The official was very professional. Pat put question after question to him and all were answered without hesitation, without any dithering regarding the law surrounding property tax.

Listeners were left in no doubt whatsoever that unless they obeyed the law to the letter Revenue would track them down and they would pay the price for their sins.

It should be noted however that such clarity, such efficiency, such determination to enforce the law is strictly confined to ordinary citizens.

When Revenue officials are interviewed about the rich and powerful they use a completely language.

We hear about constitutional considerations, about rights, about contracts, about legitimate expectations but most of all we hear about complexity.

The taxation system in Ireland is actually quite simple.

For peasants its: Pay up or suffer immediate consequences.

For the rich and powerful its: We will do our very best to minimise your tax and we will protect you on the rare occasions when you are actually caught stealing from the State.

Former chairman of the Revenue Commissioners and current chairman of NAMA, Frank Daly provides a perfect example of how the State treats the rich and powerful and how it treats the peasants.

Here are his views regarding the bogus accounts scandal of some years ago.

On ordinary bank holders (The peasants who broke the law):

Bogus account holders must be held answerable for their actions regardless of any encouragement given by the banks.

They had knowingly concealed earnings from Revenue and must pay for their actions.

On banks and bankers (The rich and powerful):

For reasons of practicality, it had been decided to seek the repayments of DIRT from the banks rather than to attempt to apportion blame.

Aggressively pursuing the banks would have resulted in a stand-off and a lengthy legal battle.

We had to go about this in a pragmatic way. Had we done otherwise, the shutters would have come down.

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Disgraced former Labour minister and Rotherham MP Denis MacShane has been jailed for six months after admitting making bogus expense claims amounting to nearly £13,000.

The following mitigating factors were taken into account by the judge.

MacShane pleaded guilty.

He was of previous good character.

The money was paid pack.

The offences were not committed out of greed or personal profit.

MacShane suffered a long period of public humiliation and carried out the offences at a time of turmoil in his personal life which included:

Divorced from his wife.
Death of his daughter.
Death of his mother.
Death of his former partner’s mother.

Yet despite these strong mitigating factors MacShane was still sent to jail.

In Ireland, any one of these factors would probably have seen an Irish politician receive a full pardon, permission to keep the defrauded money plus a bonus and a massive vote increase in any subsequent election.

I say ‘probably’ because Irish politicians are, effectively, permitted to operate outside the law and therefore we never actually witness the application of justice when they defraud the state/taxpayer, as they regularly do.

In functional democracies where the legal/justice system operates independently of the political system we see judges make statements like the judge in MacShane’s case.

There was deliberate, oft repeated and prolonged dishonesty over a period of years involving a flagrant breach of trust and consequent damage to Parliament, with correspondingly reduced confidence in our priceless democratic system and the process by which it is implemented and we are governed.

Note the words: ‘Priceless democratic system’.

Irish politicians can plunder the state’s resources at will because our democratic system is worthless.

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In 2001 solicitor Thomas Byrne, now serving 12 years for theft and fraud, removed over €500,000 from a client’s account without the client’s permission.

The Director General of the Law Society Ken Murphy described this sum as ‘not a huge amount’ and proceeded to defend what Byrne had done (The Pat Kenny Show, 6th minute).

It wasn’t a huge amount, it was made good immediately, there was no client loss; it was down to poor book keeping by Byrne.

To my knowledge, no action was taken against Byrne.

In 2012 postmaster Derek Tierney removed €4,000 from a client’s account without the client’s permission (Irish Independent).

Tierney claimed he took the money to cover shortfalls in the daily cash flow. The full €4,000 was returned, there was no client loss.

The full force of the criminal justice system was brought to bear on Tierney for his crime. He was quickly brought to court, sentenced to four months jail, lost his job and is publicly disgraced.

The judge in the case said Tierney had been in a position of trust and he had breached that trust.

In 2005 solicitor Byrne removed €1.7 million from a client’s account without the client’s permission.

The Director General of the Law Society, Ken Murphy, made the following excuses for Byrne’s actions.

His bookkeeper had died, his records were in a mess, the loss was made up immediately, there was no loss to the client.

On this occasion the Law Society decided to act, presumably because Byrne had moved on from removing ‘small’ half-million sums from his client’s accounts to somewhat larger amounts.

Byrne was not dragged through the public courts as postmaster Derek Tierney was.

Instead he was brought before the Solicitor’s Disciplinary Authority. This ‘court’ is, effectively, a private ‘justice system’ for solicitors and is, effectively, conducted behind closed doors.

Byrne was fined a paltry €15,000 for illegally removing the €1.7 million from a client’s account.

Remember, postmaster Tierney got four months jail and lost his job for illegally removing a mere €4,000.

The Director General of the Law Society, Ken Murphy was asked did he expect Byrne to be struck off for his actions.

There would need to be evidence of dishonesty and theft really before somebody would be likely to be struck off, to lose their livelihood.

Independent of the Disciplinary Authority, the Law Society appointed a forensic accountant to keep an eye on Byrne.

This accountant was required to report to the Law Society on Byrne’s activities every two months.

Apparently, under the ‘watchful’ eye of this forensic accountant Byrne went on to rob and defraud his clients of €54 million.

The Director General of the Law Society is a past master in waffle and the art of doublespeak but neither he nor his fellow solicitors can deny the disgraceful reality:

The Irish Law Society is, to a large extent, a discredited entity and as such its members should not be trusted.

Copy to:
The Irish Law Society

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Received an acknowledgement of my email to the Data Protection Commissioner today informing me that a reply would be forthcoming sometime within the next 15 working days.

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In 2012 a whistleblower in the Garda Síochána submitted a report through official channels to the Garda Commissioner alleging serious abuses of the penalty points system.

No action was taken and the whistleblower suffered serious consequences as a result of his action.

Subsequently the whistleblower submitted the same report to Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Minister for Justice, Minister for Transport, Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission, Road Safety Authority, Data Protection Commissioner and several opposition TDs.

The Data Protection Commissioner made no comment and took no action regarding the legality or illegality of the whistleblowers actions.

It is therefore reasonable to conclude that the actions of the whistleblower were legitimate and legal.

Any other conclusion would suggest that the Data Protection Commissioner was in serious dereliction of his duty at the time.

Recently, a new batch of allegations surrounding the penalty points system was handed over to Fianna Fail TD, John McGuinness who is chairman of the Public Accounts Committee.

The Garda Commissioner responded immediately to this event by writing to Mr. McGuinness demanding the return of the information.

The Data Protection Commissioner also responded immediately in support of the Garda Commissioner’s demand saying:

(Mr. McGuinness) has a duty to act on alleged breaches of the law.

For that reason, I must support the Garda commissioner’s efforts to retrieve all personal data which was removed from An Garda Síochána without his authorisation.

I rang the Data Protection Commissioner’s office yesterday to ask why Mr. McGuinness had a duty to act on alleged breaches of the law when the Data Protection Commissioner himself did not feel any such need in 2012.

I’ll report on the response I received in the next day or so.

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I visited Cobh Garda Station today to submit and sign an official statement regarding my complaint against Senator Denis Landy.

This statement along with other documents I submitted will now be sent to investigating Garda at Pearse St. Dublin.

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I noted the following statement (dated 20 August 2013) on the Central Bank website today.

The Central Bank’s investigation into Custom House Capital Ltd (in Liquidation) and persons concerned in its management has been on-going since the publication of the Final Report to the High Court by Court Appointed Inspectors dated 19 October 2011.

Following consultation with An Garda Siochána, the Central Bank’s investigation has been deferred pending completion of investigations by An Garda Síochána.

This case involves allegations of massive fraud at Custom House Capital (CHC) which was first uncovered in 2009 by a private company shortly after the so-called Financial Regulator had ‘investigated’ CHC and, effectively, gave it the all clear (See here).

Nearly five years later and we’re still waiting for our so-called law enforcement agencies to finish their ‘investigations’.

As with practically all allegations of white-collar crime in Ireland this case will be ‘investigated’ to hell and back until the entire affair becomes neutralised through history or resolved by other means which usually means those ripped off will stay ripped off and those with allegations of fraud against them will remain free and unaccountable.

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