Drumm conviction recognition of seriousness of crimes, Coveney says

Tánaiste stresses white-collar crime must be dealt with robustly

The conviction and jailing of former Anglo Irish Bank chief executive David Drumm was a recognition of the seriousness of the crimes committed, Tánaiste Simon Coveney has said.

He told the Dáil he hoped everybody in the House shared the view that white-collar crime had to be robustly dealt with.

“We need to learn from a banking crisis that has caused so much difficulty for so many families and businesses across the country,” he added.

Mr Coveney said the Government’s job was to make sure lessons were learned from the past and put legislative measures and policy in place to ensure mistakes were not repeated in the future. “We will listen to everybody who has a sensible contribution to make in that regard.”

He said the Government had published a suite of measures last November aimed at enhancing corporate governance, increasing transparency and strengthening Ireland’s response to white-collar crime.

This included a criminal procedure Bill which, among other things, streamlined criminal procedures to enhance the efficiency of criminal talks, he added.

He said work on the development of the legislative framework for the establishment of the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement as an agency had commenced and it was expected that the scheme of the Bill would give effect to that decision. Other measures were also being put in place, he said.

“There is no shortage of legislative response coming from the Government,’’ Mr Coveney added.

The Tánaiste said the Government would listen to An Garda Síochána, the Central Bank and Opposition parties that had pragmatic and sensible approaches to providing a more comprehensive suite of legislation to the modern challenges of white-collar crime.

He was replying to Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty, who said those who had suffered as a result of the action of reckless bankers finally had some measure of justice delivered.

“The damage done to the State by Anglo Irish Bank, in particular, was catastrophic,’’ he added.

Mr Doherty said it could not be pretended that David Drumm’s conviction marked some watershed moment. He said the conviction of just four people for their roles in the banking crisis 10 year after the event was hardly a ringing endorsement of the justice system.

Michael O'Regan

Michael O'Regan

Michael O’Regan is a former parliamentary correspondent of The Irish Times