Saturday 17 March 2018

Bank bosses won't know until mid-2012 if they can keep jobs

Lending chiefs who survived crisis could be forced out of positions under new regulatory powers

Financial Regulator Matthew Elderfield
Financial Regulator Matthew Elderfield

Laura Noonan

THE public could have to wait until next summer to find out if a "small handful" of bank bosses who survived the financial crisis will be forced out of their jobs.

The Central Bank will get new powers on December 1 that will enable regulators to forcibly remove top bankers found to be responsible for their institutions' bailouts.

But the Irish Independent has learned that it will be several weeks after that before any formal 'inquiries' are launched into the record of individual bankers.

And since the inquiries are likely to take several months, it could be next summer before any actions are taken against individual bankers. The small group of bankers -- believed to include Bank of Ireland chief Richie Boucher, Irish Life & Permanent boss Kevin Murphy and EBS's Fergus Murphy -- came under fresh scrutiny in March when the Central Bank unveiled a tough new corporate governance regime.

It enables the removal of bosses who were in place before the 2008 bank guarantee scheme and are found to have "contributed" to their institutions' demise. The Central Bank's head of enforcement Peter Oakes wrote to about 40 pre-crisis bank directors to find out if they planned to remain in place; just a handful replied yes.

Regulators have been weighing those responses over the summer. Once the new powers come into force in December, the Central Bank will begin to make contact with any bosses who are being considered for an inquiry, to give them an opportunity to make their case.

A decision on whether to mount any inquiries is unlikely to be taken before Christmas. Once a decision has been made, the number of inquiries is likely to be publicly announced but the people themselves won't be named.

The inquiries will involve detailed interviews with the individuals involved as well as other investigations into their records at the banks, to make sure any actions stand up to legal scrutiny.

A spokeswoman for the Central Bank declined to reveal any details of the timelines, beyond saying that no "decision on any individual case has been taken, nor will decisions be taken until after the date when the powers take effect".

She added: "When the powers come into effect all cases will be considered on an individual basis."

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