Watching the Irish performance at Eurovision was very funny. Finding out that the religious fanatic Jerry Falwell disapproved of Tinky Winky, one of the Teletubbies, on the suspicion that he was gay was very, very funny. But the funniest thing I’ve heard in years has to be the report today that the basic currency of (Irish) banking was honesty and integrity. (Also reported in the Irish Independent)
Here’s the background. For over a decade National Irish Bank, in a premeditated and well executed criminal plan, robbed millions from its customers and the state. After six years of investigation by two High Court inspectors (Irish police don’t ‘do’ white collar crime) a report was published outlining the full extent of the serious crimes committed.
In keeping with the great Irish tradition of never prosecuting white collar criminals it was decided to let the entire criminal gang off without charge.
Enter poor old Paul Appley, Director of the hilariously named Office of Corporate Enforcement. Paul’s organisation is just one of dozens of so called ‘enforcement agencies that, for various reasons, are really just toothless tigers with fancy names.
Anyway, to his credit Mr. Appley decided at least to try and get some of the NIB mafia banned from involvement in the management of any company on grounds of unfitness.
But his modest efforts were thwarted by Mr. Justice Roderick Murphy who decided it would be ‘inappropriate’ to make a disqualification order against Kevin Curran who was a regional manager and later head of retail banking at NIB. The judge gave the following reasons.
There were no findings against Mr. Curran in relation to the commission of any improper practices within the bank (‘Improper practices’ is white collar speak for massive theft and tax evasion.).
It appeared that Mr. Curran did not have the authority to bring about a cessation of certain improper practices at the bank (If a senior manager doesn’t have the authority to stop major criminal activity, who has?).
He did not appear to have a line of communication to the audit committee or the Board of Directors (Telephone had yet to be invented?).
He had to work “within organisational difficulties” (Ah, so vague. Perhaps it means – spill the beans and you’re fired?).
Mr. Curran’s defence was that “given that the basic currency in banking was honesty and integrity” his career would come to an end if a disqualification order was made against him.
So, Mr. Curran, who failed to take effective action against serious criminal activity when he was a senior manager at NIB, is claiming that he should not be disqualified because his honesty and integrity might be damaged.
What makes his defence so funny and bizarre is the idea that honesty and integrity are even remotely connected with Irish banking practices.