Sometimes I despair when I hear so called experts expound on the numerous cases of dodgy dealing and corruption in Ireland. I have no idea how educated these people are or what secret agenda they may hold but I do know that, for the most part, they talk drivel.
Take the issue of law enforcement for instance. When a law is enacted in most healthy and democratic jurisdictions it becomes instantly enforceable. The police/regulatory agencies do not require a lead in of years before they feel confident enough to actually enforce the law. In Ireland, according to these so called experts, things are different.
Solicitor Barry Lyons in a discussion about the fallout from the Michael Lynn scandal cited a recent case taken by the ODCE as an example of how things were changing with regard to law enforcement (Sunday Supplement).
“I think this week that a prosecution was brought against the director of a company who borrowed in excess of what he should have from the company. It’s unfortunate that the act was introduced in 2001 but prosecutions are beginning at this stage. But, you know, it’s part of the process for the development of the economy.”
So, seven years later somebody has actually decided to enforce the law.
And what’s this thing about ‘part of a process for the development of the economy’? What has this comment to do with law enforcement? Nothing, it’s just part of the brainless waffle we are constantly subjected to from these so called experts.
Lyons may just as well have said – ‘But, you know, it’s part of the process for the development of efficient toilets on the International Space Station’ or ‘But, you know, it’s part of the process for the development of winter heaters for cows teats’.
Economist Muir McDowell in a discussion about the fallout from Flavin/DCC insider dealing case (Marian Finucane Show, Sunday).
“Things are changing, under the Competition Act people can now get jail sentences and suspended sentences have been handed down.”
The problem with this ‘expert’ view is that the Competition Act has nothing to do with the Flavin case. The relevant legislation is the Companies Act, 1990.
Eighteen year old legislation and this is the first case of insider trading in Ireland. This can only mean that Irish businessmen are the most honest in history or the law is not being effectively enforced.
In any case, when McDowell talks about jail sentences, even under the Competition Act, he surely can’t mean jail for white collar criminals.
Allow me to enlighten any chronic optimists out there who may be under the illusion that Flavin may be charged or even end up in jail.
I can say with absolute certainty, he won’t. He will never be charged, he will never answer to a jury of his peers; he will never see the inside of a jail.
The Companies Act, 1990 is nothing more than window dressing, a sham piece of legislation designed to give the impression that Ireland actually takes white collar seriously.
Niall Brady, Money Editor Sunday Times discussing the mis-selling of products by financial institutions to the elderly (Primetime).
It was put to Brady that perhaps the financial institutions didn’t have enough fear of the Financial Regulator.
“I think that attitude is changing because we tend to forget the regulator has only had a mandate and the powers to enforce consumer protection for about two years. So in a lot of cases the regulator is still feeling its way, but I think with the powers the regulator has now things are changing.”
The Financial Regulator was set up five years ago and was hailed as the great protector of the consumer, the organisation that was going to kick ‘ass big time. The vermin that had infested the Irish financial sector were going to be exterminated; the bad old days were over. Alas, it was not to be.
Initially, somebody ‘forget’ to give the regulator any enforcement powers at all. This is like designing a car but not bothering with a fuel tank. In any case, the Financial Regulator has been up and running with enforcement powers for at least four years.
So, how long does Mr. Brady think the regulator should be given to ‘feel it’s way’? How many more millions have to be robbed from consumers before the regulator feels it has a grasp of its powers? How long before the vermin infested financial sector is finally purged of its filth?
Consumers are advised not to hold their breath or listen to ‘experts’.