Saturday 20 January 2018

The Punt: Joan's adviser off to the bank

Joan Burton. Photo: Frank Mc Grath
Joan Burton. Photo: Frank Mc Grath

THE role of a Government Special Adviser (Spad) is not for the faint hearted.

Well remunerated, the small coterie of policy and communications experts stand accused of wielding enormous influence over the country.

Last year more than €3m was spent on 36 such advisers across all government departments.

Speak to many a former Spad, however, and they will tell you that not even the much loved, much breached salary cap can compensate them for the insecurity of their tenure, the risk of one's minister being deposed and where to go to next when they are.

Happily Paul O'Brien, advisor to former Labour leader and Tánaiste Joan Burton, has no worries on the job front.

The former political editor of the 'Irish Examiner' is off to the Central Bank where he will become the number two in its communications division.

O'Brien's future responsibilities include a new information centre for those curious about the bank.

No doubt the political skills honed at the heart of Government will be of enormous benefit to Paul O'Brien and his new masters.

On the road again

Matthew Elderfield is moving to Nordea as the Swedish bank's new head of group compliance - interesting timing given the lender is coping with the fallout from its name being linked to the so-called Panama Papers.

Amazingly it is almost three years since Elderfield, inset, Ireland's one-time regulatory gun-slinger hung up his badge and moved on from the Central Bank here.

He had won plaudits for taking a tough line with financiers after taking over from Patrick Neary as Financial Regulator.

Elderfield arrived in Ireland in 2009 from a job in Bermuda. After Dublin he switched to the private sector, taking a no doubt rewarding gig as head of compliance at Lloyds Banking Group in London.

Now he's moving job, and country, all over again.

Nordea says Elderfield will start as its new head of group compliance by November at the latest.

Last month, on foot of the Panama Papers, Swedish authorities contacted officials in Luxembourg for information related to allegations that Nordea helped some clients set up accounts in offshore tax havens - potentially breaching money laundering rules.

Survey doesn't Shed much light

'Almost two-thirds (60pc) of board members in Ireland say their anti-bribery and corruption policies do not work effectively, according to a new international study from Eversheds."

That was the opening paragraph of a press release sent out yesterday.

The release went on to say that 75pc of the Irish executives involved in the research also said they had uncovered corrupt business practices in their organisation.

Pretty startling stuff. What's even more startling is that the just 20 large organisations in Ireland were included in the study.

That's hardly a survey.

The study engaged with 500 board-level executives in large organisations across 12 countries - including the 20 in Ireland - to find out how businesses are responding to bribery and corruption in their organisation.

The release is filled with claims such as "20pc of senior executives in Ireland say they do not conduct anti-bribery due diligence as part of M&A activity".

Is that representative?

Not if just 20 organisations have been surveyed as part of the study.

Sorry Eversheds. As surveys go, this one's a little useless.

Irish Independent

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