Reckless bank officials should face imprisonment, says Renua

Lucinda Creighton unveils policy paper to tackle white collar crime

Senior bank officials who have been found to have recklessly lent money should face serious sanctions including imprisonment, Renua Ireland has advocated in a new policy paper.

Party leader Lucinda Creighton unveiled the new policy paper to tackle white collar crime in Dublin on Friday alongside other senior political representatives.

Ms Creighton also said the Bill contained provisions to establish a Corporate Criminal Court that would deal specifically with financial crimes.

The party has published a 10-point plan to deal with this area which the party claims has been neglected compared to more traditional forms of criminality.

Central to the paper is to make reckless lending a criminal offence. This was a recommendation of Central Bank governor, Patrick Honohan.

“There is a really strong sense that notwithstanding the extraordinary collapse of the banking system and the massive destruction caused to the economy which has affected the lives of ordinary citizen, nothing has really changed,” said Ms Creighton.

The policy would bring real accountability to actions and omissions in the corporate world, she intimated.

“We will introduce legislation which imposes criminal liability on a senior manager of a banking institution, fund or insurance undertaking who knowingly puts the viability of the institution at risk,” Ms Creighton said.

The party's deputy leader Billy Timmons said it seemed to him that white collar crime was not taken as seriously in Ireland as other forms of criminality.

“If you steal an apple in Moore Street, odds are you will go through the process. But we know that many big criminals involved in company crime and fraud get away with it,” Mr Timmons said.

Among the main measures are: criminal sanctions for company directors found to have traded recklessly. There are existing laws in Australia dealing with this issue.

Another proposal, which might be difficult to legislate for, is the idea of providing a financial incentive to whistle-blowers. This would involve them being entitled to a portion of any money owed to the Exchequer that was retrieved because of their disclosures.

The policy also suggests that grounds for mitigation, including previous good character, should not be so readily relied on by the Courts.

Another major provision is for the corporate criminal court to deal with the offences covered by the policy. This court would be presided over by judges who have specialist knowledge and expertise in this area. It would be the criminal equivalent of the Commercial Court.