Thursday 26 April 2018

‘It’s time to jail reckless lenders’ - Lucinda Creighton says new laws needed to change Ireland's corporate culture

Lucinda Creighton
Lucinda Creighton
John Downing

John Downing

Bankers who recklessly lend money to people should face jail, Renua Ireland leader Lucinda Creighton said.

The leader of one of Ireland’s newest political parties was at Leinster House to publish her party’s plan on tackling white-collar crime.

“We will introduce legislation which imposes criminal liability on a senior manager of a banking institution, fund or insurance undertaking who knowingly puts the viability of the institution at risk,” Ms Creighton said.

The party said new laws were needed to "shift corporate culture" and ensure that past mistakes were not repeated.

Read More: Renua will crack down on white collar crime - Lucinda Creighton

It also want a new criminal sanction with a jail term of up to 10 years for company directors who conduct business illegally or irresponsibly.

“In Ireland we’ve been hit much harder than elsewhere by the collapse of our banking system and yet we’ve not responded with really robust criminal sanctions against the behaviour that lead us to the crash that brought the country to its knees," Ms Creighton later told Sean O'Rourke on RTÉ Radio One.

Read More: Lucinda must take risks to make Renua relevant

Renua Ireland has published a 10-point plan aimed at increasing action against white-collar criminals including making reckless lending a criminal offence – as recommended by the Central Bank governor, Patrick Honohan.

Party TD Billy Timmons said the Irish justice system does not take white-collar crime as seriously as so-called ordinary crime.

“If you steal an apple in Moore Street, odds are you will go through the process. But we know that many big criminals involved in company crime and fraud get away with it,” Mr Timmons said.

The other pointers include:

  • Criminal sanctions for company directors who conduct business recklessly based on laws already in force in Australia.
  • Curbing the use of limited company liability to escape punishment for breaking the law.
  • Tightening provisions to ensure claiming ignorance of the law is not a defence.
  • Reducing scope for sentence mitigation on grounds of previous good character or “good family.”
  • Improving training for all company directors.
  • Facilitating whistleblowers – including giving them a percentage of taxpayers’ money recouped from detecting wrong-doing.
  • A special white-collar crime court with streamlined procedures and more training for judges and lawyers.

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