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Incompetent bankers can only be fined €1,297

THE maximum that Irish bankers can be fined for the offence of mismanaging their own banks is €1,297, the corporate watchdog Paul Appleby has revealed.

Banks and their managers are committing an offence if they fail to run their companies according to "sound administrative and accounting principles" -- but the penalty for not doing so is only a fine of €1,297 or six months in prison.

In a document on white-collar crime, Mr Appleby reveals a series of gaps in the law which prevent Ireland from tackling corporate crime thoroughly.

While it is not widely known, since 1992 it has been an offence in Ireland to fail to manage a bank properly and directors/ managers who are neglectful of their duties can be charged with a criminal offence.

But such an offence only goes to the district court, where the maximum penalty must not exceed €1,297.

The reason is because when Ireland translated EU regulations into local Irish law, the offences went to the lower courts, where fines are smaller.

Mr Appleby's document also makes it clear that not only are fines low in this area, there are limitations on the time period that investigators can look at.

"The offence can be prosecuted only if the offence has been detected and fully investigated within the period of two years from the date on which it was committed," the document makes clear.

Mr Appleby points out that even if Ireland had started investigating bank failures after the guarantee was given in September 2008 investigators still wouldn't have been able to go back very far.

Irish Independent