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Monday 5 December 2016

Central Bank has levied over €27m in fines since 2011

Published 31/05/2015 | 02:30

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan
Minister for Finance Michael Noonan

the Central Bank has imposed over €27m of fines since 2011, newly released figures reveal.

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The biggest single fine was €5m - the maximum the Central Bank could impose at the time - and was given to Quinn Insurance, in 2013, for a number of regulatory breaches, including a failure to meet solvency requirements.

But Finance Minister Michael Noonan said that the fine was waived because Quinn was in administration at the time and financially reliant on the Insurance Compensation Fund.

"In these wholly exceptional circumstances, the Central Bank decided to waive the monetary penalty in its entirety in the public interest," Mr Noonan said in a written answer to a Dail question from Sinn Fein TD Pearse Doherty.

Ulster Bank was hit with the second biggest fine - €3.5m - for an IT systems collapse that left customers without banking services for a month.

A Central Bank spokeswoman told the Sunday Independent that fines are paid into the Central Bank's account, with a portion of the Bank's profits then going to the Exchequer.

Mr Noonan said that since the commencement of the Central Bank (Supervision and Enforcement) Act 2013, the Central Bank can fine a company either €10m or 10pc of its turnover, whichever is the greater sum.

At the time the Quinn fine was announced, the then head of the Central Bank's 'enforcement 1 division', Derville Rowland, blasted the company.

"It failed to ensure proper oversight of its subsidiaries. Certain of these subsidiaries, on which Quinn Insurance was dependent for its technical reserves, entered into significant financial guarantees. Quinn Insurance was blind to these guarantees; its board never had opportunity to consider them or their implications. The controls to manage the firm's subsidiaries were evidently deficient.

"This is a repeat offence which is a significant aggravating factor. The firm had a monetary penalty of €3.25m imposed in October 2008 for similar breaches.

"This case therefore warrants the maximum monetary penalty which the Central Bank can impose, namely €5m... the Central Bank will not tolerate weak controls or governance within a firm and will take enforcement action against the firm or responsible senior management when problems arise."

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