Sinn Féin Bill would make it a crime to lie to Central Bank

Government accepts the ‘overall principle’ of SF’s proposed banking reforms

Sinn Féin spokesperson on finance Pearse Doherty outside Leinster House, Dublin. File photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Sinn Féin spokesperson on finance Pearse Doherty outside Leinster House, Dublin. File photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

The Government has accepted the “overall principle’’ of a Sinn Féin Bill making it a criminal offence to lie to the Central Bank.

Sinn Féin finance spokesman Pearse Doherty told the Dáil on Wednesday that the Central Bank (Amendment) Bill, 2018, would make lying to the Central Bank punishable by a custodial sentence.

“Bankers or anybody else, such as those in the insurance industry, found guilty of this offence could face up to five years’ imprisonment,’’ he added.

Mr Doherty said it was incredible that thousands of families across the State were paying over the odds on their mortgages, not just because of high variable interest rates but also due to the tracker scandal.

The banks knew they were a protected species, he added.

“Banks and bankers destroyed the finances of the State through arrogance and what I believe is criminality,’’ said Mr Doherty.

“Yet they still act as if they are unaccountable to anybody.’’

He said the Dáil knelt down to bankers and worshipped them.

“One of the first things I noticed in the Dáil members’ bar was a picture of one of the most notorious bankers, along with a group of deputies, in a celebrated little cubbyhole surrounded by all the different trophies members would have won at the Galway Races and elsewhere,’’ he said.

‘Serious concerns’

Minister of State for Finance Michael D’Arcy said the Sinn Féin Bill, as currently drafted, raised a number of serious concerns.

He said the Government was undertaking serious analysis of how best to enhance the Central Bank’s regulatory and enforcement powers.

Department of Finance officials were working with the Central Bank to identify additional powers to increase the accountability of senior officials within the banking system, Mr D’Arcy added.

He said he expected the proposals to emerge to be broader than those proposed in the Sinn Féin Bill.