Irish failure to investigate economic crisis criticised
A FORMER banking regulator who helped prosecute more than 1,000 white-collar criminals in the US has said Ireland is creating a “completely unjust society” by not properly investigating the causes of the economic crisis.
Lawyer and former investigator Bill Black said yesterday there was a “complete lack of deterrent” in the Irish financial system, with a failure to hold people accountable for their mistakes.
Mr Black is one of a number of experts in Kilkenny for this year’s Kilkenomics festival, which runs until tomorrow night and draws an international line-up of contributors from the worlds of economics and comedy. The festival has been described by one reviewer as “Davos with jokes”.
Currently associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri, Mr Black was involved in the investigation into the US Savings and Loan banking scandal in the 1980s and 1990s.
“When you don’t hold folks accountable, you end up with this [crisis],” he told The Irish Times yesterday, adding the Irish system had suffered from a lack of regulation. “It isn’t even that you didn’t prosecute, but you didn’t investigate,” he said.
“An essential element of the search for justice is to hold your elite accountable. When you don’t do that, you’re creating a completely unjust society.”
He is speaking at a number of events over the weekend, including last night’s session on Is the Euro Crisis Over? and will address this afternoon’s debate on Are We Addicted to Bad News?
When the news that former billionaire Seán Quinn had been sentenced to nine weeks in prison for contempt of court reached the festival yesterday morning, audience members at a live broadcast of the Pat Kenny radio show applauded.
Also taking place today is “Mammynomics”, featuring comedian Colm O’Regan who created the popular @irishmammies Twitter account and has just published a related book, Isn’t it Well for Ye? The Book of Irish Mammies.
The lack of women taking economic decisions will be discussed this afternoon during a session titled The Feminine Touch: Does ‘Maleness’ Cause Financial and Economic Mistakes? featuring an all-female panel including Dr Linda Yueh, a fellow in economics at Oxford University and adjunct professor of economics at the London Business School, as well as Bloomberg TV’s economics editor.
Also contributing last night was former Wall Street stockbroker Max Keiser, now a broadcaster and film-maker who features regularly on radio and television in Russia and Iran, and on BBC, as well as writing for the Huffington Post website.
He said yesterday the Irish economy was “bleeding to death” while German financial institutions were “benefiting” from our loss of sovereignty.
The answer, he said, was to not pay off the debt.
“You have to default, without question. It’s unsecured debt. The creditors knew they were taking a risk when they took it out.”
The Irish Government is not addressing the problem, he said, because “there’s a lot of financial illiteracy at the top. They’re being told what the problem is by the creditors. They themselves don’t have an opinion.”