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It makes sense: it's not the inquisition

Extending the "fitness and probity" regime to the credit unions will bring hundreds, maybe thousands, of individuals on to the financial regulator's radar.

Nobody likes to have their fitness or their probity questioned, never mind by the financial regulator.

The new rules are necessary, though. The local credit union is part of the financial mainstream these days and looks after millions of euro of members' cash and members' debts.

If the Greek economy can be crippled by a housing slump in Florida, we don't need reminding that all parts of the economy are inter-connected.

Details of how it will all work are sketchy, but those concerned that their financial affairs will be laid bare before their neighbours or the regulators in Dublin have little to fear.

That certainly didn't happen during the fitness and probity process at the banks.

The Central Bank has no powers to look at what is, or is not, in anyone's bank account, or at how much they owe. The new rules will not include a credit check.

What is likely to happen is that anyone at a credit union with responsibility for managing financial risk will be asked to prove they are up to the job.

That will be done by showing they understand their work and that they don't have a history of dishonesty or financial failure.

The main tool the Central Bank will use is likely to be a questionnaire, as happened at the banks. Bankers were quizzed on qualifications and work history, with questions such as:

• Had they ever been bankrupt, or struck off as a director?

• Had they ever been convicted of money laundering, or terrorist financing?

• Had they ever been sacked from a job where they had financial responsibilities?

It is sensible stuff. The strange thing is not so much that these questions will now be asked, it is that they were never asked before.

Irish Independent