Mr. Justice Peter Kelly was probably in his chambers going over the application from the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) for a six month extension to the investigation into Anglo Irish Bank when the truth suddenly dawned on him.
What the hell is going on, he probably thought, this is the 6th application for an extension to this investigation and feck all has happened.
And what about all those other cases that I and other judges have sent to the prosecution authorities with strong evidence of criminal wrongdoing, sometimes with outright admissions of guilt and nothing, absolutely nothing has happened?
Welcome, Justice Kelly, to Public Inquiry. Allow me to explain what’s going on.
In functional democracies serious allegations of white collar crime similar to those made against Anglo Irish Bank are dealt with immediately by the police and courts.
They are not side-lined off into decade’s long tribunals, handed over to virtually powerless agencies like the ODCE or those involved given the option of answering a few polite questions before a completely powerless government committee.
In dysfunctional democracies like Ireland allegations and suspicions of white collar crime are permanently parked, delayed until they become historical or, in many cases, simply ignored.
The most effective strategy, whether intentional or not, of protecting white collar criminals is delay and it is obvious that this is what is happening in the Anglo Irish Bank case. It is this strategy that has so upset Judge Kelly.
Another very effective strategy is constant but never acted upon assurances that action is being taken to make sure this kind of thing never happens again.
That’s why when I first read about the latest delay in the Anglo case I thought to myself – it won’t be long before some state agency issues a statement assuring everybody that action is being taken.
And sure enough, the very next day, the Financial Regulator issued a statement warning banks that Big Brother is watching, that from now on there was going to be very close supervision of banking activities.
I have been listening to such official drivel since the early 1980s.
How, you may well ask, was the FR able to react so quickly? Well, it’s simple.
The latest ‘get tough’ warning was actually issued last March and, probably, to reassure Judge Kelly and help ODCE get their extension, the same mush was regurgitated.
The bottom line is simple; white collar crime does not (officially) exist in corrupt states.