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Elderfield gets go-ahead to hire extra 200 staff

THE Central Bank's board has given Matthew Elderfield the go-ahead to hire 200 new staff for his financial regulation team, the Irish Independent has learnt.

The news comes three months after Mr Elderfield told an Oireachtas committee his office was "critically under-resourced" in the enforcement area.

Mr Elderfield has already hired 120 staff since he took office 12 months ago, bringing his financial institutions supervision team to 510.

The request for another 200 staff has been approved in principle by the Central Bank's commission and is awaiting formal sign-off. The final nod is expected by the end of the first quarter, and sources said it was "full steam ahead" with the process.

It is understood enforcement will be a key focus for the new recruits, as the regulator battles to clear a pipeline of cases that has built up.

Back in October, Mr Elderfield said his enforcement team of 24 should be expanded to more than 60 to clear that pipeline and allow the regulator to take on more "big fish".

With the notable exceptions of Quinn Insurance's administration and record fines for AIB and NCB, the regulator's actions have typically focused on smaller brokers.

Mr Elderfield has previously spoken of the merits of taking on individuals rather than firms as a way of increasing accountability.

The approach is expected to be largely on firms in 2011, however, as the regulator grapples with legal issues around taking actions against individuals.

Mr Elderfield is also pushing for harsher sanctions in the second wave of the Central Bank Act.

The regulator hopes the act will come in before the summer.

Irish Independent