The Central Bank of Ireland today recommended new measures to tackle white-collar crime that would leave the heads of financial services firms open to criminal prosecution in the event of "egregious recklessness".
The financial watchdog also said it supports the establishment of a special investigations unit for white-collar crime, such as fraud and corruption, arguing the dedicated taskforce should be established within an existing criminal agency.
The tougher stance was set out in the Central Bank's response to a Law Reform Commission Report, and includes a string of recommendations to more effectively combat corporate crime and strengthen accountability of senior management.
Included in the planned reforms is a provision to extend the amount of time individuals can be suspended from senior positions in regulated firms.
The fresh measures also include a recommendation to embed “certain core common standards within a legislative framework". In a statement the Central Banks said these “core standards can sit alongside prescriptive rules, and can be enforced where entities or individuals fall below them.”
Last year one of the most high-profile white-collar trials in the State's history spectacularly collapsed. In May the former chairman of Anglo Irish Bank, Sean FitzPatrick, was acquitted on all counts following serious failings in the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement's investigation against the prominent executive.
Derville Rowland, the Central Bank's Director General, Financial Conduct said "regulators require a coherent, robust and well-drafted legislative framework that allows for adaptive responses to suspected breaches of regulatory requirements."
She said a "well-stocked enforcement toolbox is vital to ensuring the Central Bank can safeguard stability and protect consumers and we are committed to continually reviewing our powers and requesting amendments where we see them as enhancing the framework.”
She added the watchdog’s submission was "based on the Central Bank’s extensive experience with enforcement since the crisis."