Saturday 18 November 2017

Probe by regulator discovers 325 brokers not complying with rules

Bernard Sheridan, Director of Consumer Protection Central Bank. Photo: Tom Burke
Bernard Sheridan, Director of Consumer Protection Central Bank. Photo: Tom Burke
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

A number of financial brokers are failing to comply with regulatory rules, the Central Bank said.

A targeted probe by the bank found 325 brokerage firms had failed to submit annual returns, with issues around many of those that did submit returns.

The inspections comprised unannounced visits over a 14-week period.

Following the investigation, 134 firms have now sought voluntary revocation of their authorisation from the Central Bank.

Regulators said another 171 companies are now meeting reporting obligations.

Not submitting an annual return can pose a serious threat to the Central Bank's objectives, as non-compliance in one area can often be a sign of wider issues which can negatively impact on consumers, it said.

The director of consumer protection at the Central Bank, Bernard Sheridan, inset, said the probe had forced brokers to ensure they observe regulatory rules.

"While this targeted approach may be resource-intensive, it has resulted in increased overall compliance in the retail intermediary sector with 92pc now meeting reporting obligations which will enable us to effectively supervise them."

Mr Sheridan said the Central Bank has a strong consumer protection framework in place to ensure that customers of retail intermediaries are protected.

"Although many of these firms are small and are categorised as low impact under the Central Bank's risk assessment framework, we have a clear and tailored strategy in place for these firms which includes the analysis of annual online returns and regular thematic inspections of the sector," he added.

The Central Bank is responsible for supervising over 2,600 retail intermediaries in Ireland.

This includes insurance, reinsurance, investment and mortgage brokers.

Since 2011 retail intermediaries are required to submit an annual online return to the Central Bank.

This is considered a key supervisory tool to identify key risk indicators, such as when a firm fails key financial health checks or does not have the correct level of Professional Indemnity Insurance in place.

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