Banking scandal – a crisis of governance

 

Sir, – Your columnist Cliff Taylor, in an excellent and very informative contribution to the debate on the tracker racket (“Time to put the skids under banks that drag their tracker-scandal heels”, Analysis, October 25th), outlined the effective actions available to the Central Bank and which entitle it to penalise directors and senior management of Irish banks where the situation warrants it. This is a welcome change from the Central Bank, assorted politicians, and various media types proudly waving their degrees in missing the point while waffling about penalising “the banks”.

The options available include sanctions against certain directors and senior executives who have not acted “honestly, ethically and with integrity”.

These are concepts unknown to Irish banking.

To date there is no sign of the Central Bank using any of the weapons in its armoury, and its governor seems to see the role of the bank as akin to that of a spectator at a football match. It seems inevitable that the Central Bank will continue its policy of non-enforcement, and the bankers will continue on their merry way.

In these circumstances there is really only one solution. The governor should resign immediately.

Then let us have a governor who will ensure that the Central Bank does start to use the powers it has and starts to measure up to its responsibilities.

It has been a dismal failure up to now at what is a key element of its responsibilities. – Yours, etc,

BILL POWER,

Tramore,

Co Waterford.

Sir, – Odran Reid (October 26th) asks if it is possible to “get an account with an ethical bank”. Could I suggest he looks at one of the credit unions, which have stuck to their community and co-operative principles?

The 1997 Credit Union Act was supposed to facilitate new, additional and innovative services for credit unions’ cooperative members, overseen and fostered by the financial regulator.

In an examination, we might be asked to “compare and contrast” how the regulator dealt vigorously with a large number of “minnow” credit unions (around 300 of them, with total savings of just over €13 billion) compared to its hands-off and softly-softly approach to the “sharks” of the big banks, two alone of which (Bank of Ireland and AIB) have a combined capitalisation of more than €20 billion.

Because of the credit union movement’s savings protection scheme, “no credit union member has ever lost” any of his or her savings (“shares”). Compare and contrast with the banks’ shareholders and pensioners and the huge loss to the taxpayer of the bailout.

So, yes, Mr Reid, it is possible to have an account with an ethical bank, only that bank is called a credit union. – Yours, etc,

JOHN McENEANEY,

Celbridge, Co Kildare.

Sir, – I am in the privileged position of being able to use a bank as one would a pub toilet: it’s convenient (thank God for ATMs) and if fulfils a need, but I don’t have to like it or trust it.

I feel truly sorry for those unfortunates who have to engage with the banks as a supplicant to access finance for a home, those at whom the advertising campaigns of the banks are targeted.

The infuriating “I’m your friend, trust me” messages ring so untrue in the current climate – dishonest, glib and patronising – that they must surely be counter-productive.

The banks would be better cancelling their considerable advertising spend and using the monies saved to be more generous in providing redress to those they have wronged. – Yours, etc,

TERRY PATTISON,

Dún Laoghaire,

Co Dublin.

Sir, – Help for what matters to take small steps, big steps, so you can keep going to the bank of you by putting down roots and allowing us to overcharge you as often as we like.

How appropriate those bank ads are! – Yours, etc,

VINCENT TULLY,

Bagenalstown,

Co Carlow.

Sir, – The banks’ culture or the Irish culture?

Let’s be honest with ourselves. – Yours, etc,

GEAROID KILGALLEN,

Dún Laoghaire,

Co Dublin.

Sir, – Banks misbehaving, a weak regulator and Central Bank, Ministers talking tough, politicians screaming and shouting well after the horse has bolted.

Does this sound familiar? It’s Groundhog Day in Ireland. – Yours, etc,

BRIAN CULLEN,

Rathfarnham,

Dublin 16.

Sir, – If the Government is serious, then it is not rocket science to identify the culprits. Just follow the paper trail. There is always a paper trail.

No junior or senior employee makes these major decisions. Major decisions affecting the wellbeing of a bank are only made at the top. Otherwise the bank is out of control. – Yours, etc,

KEVIN TREACY,

New Ross,

Co Wexford.

A chara, – I applied for a duplicate bank statement, two pages with approximately 20 transactions. It took a week to process and I was charged an unspecified fee.

The letter tells me I can look on the bank’s website or visit a branch to ascertain the amount.

I also got a slap on the wrist for my slovenliness: “You can avoid this charge in future by filing your statements safely when you receive them.” – Yours, etc,

ANNE MARIE KENNEDY,

Craughwell,

Co Galway.

Sir, – Maybe this Halloween, it should be “Tracker treat”. – Yours, etc,

HENRY MURDOCH,

Dalkey,

Co Dublin.