Dan O'Brien: Pay whistle-blowers to keep big finance clean
There is disdain for 'informers' in Ireland but it's time we grew out of it if we want to avoid another crisis
TWO years ago an American woman, Sherry Hunt, received $31m (€22.7m) from a US government agency.
That agency was not a state lottery, but the financial services regulator. She was given the cash as a reward for blowing the whistle on rule-breaking in a part of the Citibank financial conglomerate in which she had worked. Widespread flouting of the rules by that bank and many others contributed to the US mortgage meltdown, which in turn led to the worst recession in living memory in both the US and Europe.
Under US laws, enacted as long ago as the 19th Century and strengthened as recently as 2010, whistle-blowers are incentivised to come forward by an entitlement which allows them benefit financially if the wrongdoing they reveal is proven and penalties are paid by the perpetrators.