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Irish Politics & Business: A license for unpunished fraud & corruption?


MsAnneThrope

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Read the following paragraph and see if you can guess the name of the bank in question:

[the bank] collapsed with the rest of his property empire, having provided a handy source of cheap credit for the group over many years. When the crash came, it emerged that there was a shortfall of £4 million, with hundreds of depositors left high and dry, including many who had lost their life savings. It also emerged that a 'loan' of £30,000 had been made to Charlie Haughey, and no interest was ever charged on it. The liquidator's report to the High Court said bluntly that the bank had been 'operated and run by the directors with scandalous disregard not only for the Companies Act but also for the Central Bank Act'. Acccording to liquidator Paddy Shortall, possible offences included bribery, conspiracy, corrupt transactions, falsifying or destroying books, publishing fraudulent statements, making false returns to the Central Bank, concealment of property and obtaining credit by false pretences. On foot of his report, the Garda Fraud Squad was called in, but no further action was taken against [him] in this jurisdiction. However, he was prosecuted for fraud in Northern Ireland, where [the bank] had a subsidiary, and served two years in Crumlin Road jail, Belfast. After his release in 1992 he made a new career in South Africa. In a 1998 interview with Frank Connolly of the Sunday Business Post, he revealed that Haughey had approached him two days before coming Taoiseach in December 1979 to request help in clearing a £1 million debt he had with AIB. [He] gave him £300,000 out of his own pocket - and out of a 'sense of duty', just as his father had done before. But since the money was coming from the group's funds, rather than his own, it was dressed up as a 'deposit' on the purchase of Abbeville
Sounds very familiar doesn't it? It's not Anglo though, of course, but it shows how incapable we are of learning from mistakes of the past. The above is Frank McDonald & Kathy Sheridan's description of the goings-on of Patrick Gallagher and his Merchant Banking Limited bank, in the 1970s up to its collapse in the early 1990s, in their superb book The Builders. No punishment was meted out to Gallagher here but no mercy was shown by the authorities in Northern Ireland. When I think back over a lot of the dodgy dealings between business/banks and politicians over the years I wonder is it now a mindset, cast in stone, that the law does not and should not apply to white collar crime in this country, especially when some politicians seem to benefit directly. And is the current Government seriously committed or even capable of finally tackling and ending the crony corruption in this country, or is it an accepted feature of Irish politics, business and life? Is it a requirement for them to exist? Is it their raison d'être? A perceived perk for entering political life?

When I look at Brian Lenihan I always ask myself how this man could seriously have stayed with his party. A former leader misappropriated money, for his own personal use, from funds raised for Lenihan's late father's life-saving liver transplant. I mean how low is that? And would you stay with that party after this dirty deed? Would you continue to support that leader? Lenihan did so I have to ask does he (and Cowen) have the moral authority to clean up Irish politics and business? Does he really know the difference between what's right and wrong, what's acceptable and what's not, and when the line has been crossed?

When dodgy politicians, bankers and businesspeople look at our track record in tackling white collar crime and see the very obvious lack of (or meaningless) punishment is it not an incentive for them to continue to bend and break the rules, knowing full well there won't be any repercussions? And the fairy tales and obstructive behaviour seen at the various Tribunals is disheartening in that it shows many people are determined to defend the old way of doing things in this dirty little country. Dermot Ahern's much touted Anti-Corruption initiative is never heard of. The website hasn't been updated since 2008. Another case of pretending to be proactive to calm public outrage? And the fact some senior bankers, at the very heart of our current economic mess, have just sailed off into the sunset with multi-million payoffs and massive, lucrative pensions to do as they please, with no hard questions asked it seems.

So what do we as a country need to do to seriously tackle and end corruption here? More powers to committed Financial & Corporate Regulators are essential. An end to all political donations by businesses must be seriously considered. And tough financial and custodial sentences have to be seen to be meted out here as a deterrent to others.

Unless we kill off this cancer in Irish political and business life we, as a nation, will just find ourselves stumbling from decade to decade, for the rest of our lives and maybe even for all eternity, revealing one scandal after another. Another politican found to have been paid off in return for political favour, or using public money to invest in private facilities from which they'll draw handsome fees and directorships upon their retirement? And while our disgraced bankers improve their golf handicap in the Mediterranean or Floridian sunshine, wining and dining to their merry hearts' content, future generations of taxpayers will sit under the grey skies of Ireland and pay the price for unpunished crooks.
 
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Gadfly

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354
Brava!

The dogs in the street know that we have a problem with corruption. It is also clear that this is a contributing factor to the depth of our particular downturn - which is as bad as anything seen anywhere since the second world war.

International finance also sees the problem. This is not good news, as it costs us money and discourages investment. Standard & Poor's cited murkiness in the financial sector as a reason for one of the recent downgradings.

The IMF generally prefers more coded language:

"To be sustained, fiscal consolidation measures should be underpinned by a structure of rules and accountability within which politically-sensitive trade-offs can be made."

To paraphrase: "Ireland is not at the races when it comes to regulation and enforcement of regulation. Get a grip."

Once in a while even the IMF is provoked into plain speaking:
"further safeguards are needed to limit the risks of related-party lending by banks. ... Safeguards should lower the applicable limits, specify non-favorable terms for the transactions, and require strict approval procedures."

http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/scr/2009/cr09195.pdf, paras 4, 29 and 43.

Sad to say, there are few signs that the leopard is prepared to change its spots.
 

Pauli

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Sep 22, 2006
Messages
1,181
Brava!

The dogs in the street know that we have a problem with corruption. It is also clear that this is a contributing factor to the depth of our particular downturn - which is as bad as anything seen anywhere since the second world war.

International finance also sees the problem. This is not good news, as it costs us money and discourages investment. Standard & Poor's cited murkiness in the financial sector as a reason for one of the recent downgradings.

The IMF generally prefers more coded language:

"To be sustained, fiscal consolidation measures should be underpinned by a structure of rules and accountability within which politically-sensitive trade-offs can be made."

To paraphrase: "Ireland is not at the races when it comes to regulation and enforcement of regulation. Get a grip."

Once in a while even the IMF is provoked into plain speaking:
"further safeguards are needed to limit the risks of related-party lending by banks. ... Safeguards should lower the applicable limits, specify non-favorable terms for the transactions, and require strict approval procedures."

http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/scr/2009/cr09195.pdf, paras 4, 29 and 43.

Sad to say, there are few signs that the leopard is prepared to change its spots.
This is a massive problem in Ireland but the government is either too blinkered ot too compromised to take the problem seriously. As you say, international finance sees the problem. If the rule of law cannot be relied upon, then we have a very serious situation. Foreigners are not fools and only fools invest where the rule of law is suspect.
 

Toland

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Website
www.aggressive-secularist.com
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MsAnneThrope

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This is a massive problem in Ireland but the government is either too blinkered or too compromised to take the problem seriously
And it begs the question, if they are already compromised, are they being further compromised by others as a result? A vicious circle of sorts preventing us from ever wiping the slate clean. But if we don't clean the slate it will just continue ad nauseum. I suspect we haven't seen or heard of the majority of the shenanigans at the banks during the last decade, and a lot of livelihoods and reputations are at stake.

I'm trying to think of how we can end, or at least decrease, the neverending corruption here. Should the likes of SIPO (Standards in Public Office) be given far greater powers to examine politicians? A political equivalent of the Office for the Director of Corporate Enforcement, but with real teeth and powers. And speaking of the ODCE (and the Financial Regulator) they need to be given far greater powers for their work, with serious penalties for those who refuse to co-operate or fail to do their jobs by turning a blind eye. If parties or individuals object, well, that would say a lot about them, wouldn't it? Is something like this even practical? If not, what can we do? I'm sick of the corruption here and we owe it to our kids and future generations to try stamp it out.

Whoever convinces me come 2012 that this will be a priority for them, and will ruthlessly do their best to put an end to it, will definitely be getting my vote. And it the parties in Opposition have any candidates with skeletons in their closets they better start weeding them out between now and 2012.
 

He3

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The conclusion is clear - there is no white collar crime in Ireland.

Be grateful.
 

SideysGhost

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Corruption has been rampant since at least the 1960s. At this stage it has become normal, they "way things are done here", shure dere's no harm, somethig for yerself big fella, where's my cut?

And those inside the tent really really do believe that things like laws are only for the little people and they don't apply to them. The level of self-delusion is staggering - these people geniunely believe that their corrupt practices are what made Ireland prosperous since the 1950s, that it does no harm, that the little people shouldn't be complaining because the way they do things works, get results, provides jobs. They really believe that - at least the hangers on and functionaries who facilitate the corruption in the public sector, councils, banks etc really believe that.

And so it continues, generation after generation.
 

MPB

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Corruption has been rampant since at least the 1960s. At this stage it has become normal, they "way things are done here", shure dere's no harm, somethig for yerself big fella, where's my cut?

And those inside the tent really really do believe that things like laws are only for the little people and they don't apply to them. The level of self-delusion is staggering - these people geniunely believe that their corrupt practices are what made Ireland prosperous since the 1950s, that it does no harm, that the little people shouldn't be complaining because the way they do things works, get results, provides jobs. They really believe that - at least the hangers on and functionaries who facilitate the corruption in the public sector, councils, banks etc really believe that.

And so it continues, generation after generation.
The difference this time is that we are well and truly bankrupt and they ( FF ) are being forced to try and solve the problems.

At the moment they have managed to convince the gullible majority that the problem was not of their making and can be solved by giving the bankrupt rich a taxpayer handout.

But the rich were never rich without the support of the Banks and the Banks are even more bankrupt than the rich.

We do not have the money nor the access to the money to solve this problem and the hope is, that they can rescue as many donors as possible before this fact becomes public knowledge.

FF are engaged in Hitlers last stand kind of stuff and we all know how that ended.
 

Sync

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Yes, FF's current behavior is totally analogous with the Führerbunker in 1945. :rolleyes:

The relentless stupidity of posters here seemingly dedicated to linking everything they don't like with Nazisim really is a sight to behold.
 

He3

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Statistics tell us that there is no white collar crime in Ireland and that our political class is above average when it comes to abiding by all applicable laws.

And statistics never lie.
 

MPB

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Yes, FF's current behavior is totally analogous with the Führerbunker in 1945. :rolleyes:

The relentless stupidity of posters here seemingly dedicated to linking everything they don't like with Nazisim really is a sight to behold.
Who linked FFs behaviour to Nazism, dopey?
 

MsAnneThrope

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Last May our DPP James Hamilton gave a speech at the Burren Law School titled "Prosecuting Corruption in Ireland" (PDF format). It's an interesting read if you have 5 minutes but it does still show, as he puts it himself, that "there are still significant weaknesses in the legislative scheme". His conclusion is this:

Within the past ten years or so, as a result of significant legislative changes, there has been a higher rate of prosecution of corruption than was the case before that. There has also, I believe, been a significant public change in attitude to such offences. I think most members of the public now realize that there is a very high price to be paid for toleration of corrupt and shady practices and for the “cute hoor” culture. The introduction of a presumption in relation to payments in the 2001 Act was a significant strengthening of the law, as was the introduction of ethics in public office legislation. However, there are still significant weaknesses in the legislative scheme. I do not believe that so long as the private financing of political parties is allowed in an unlimited way it will be possible to eliminate political corruption. I also think that we need to give serious consideration to whether jury trials are appropriate in relation to offences of fraud. The current political and economic crisis may well provide the circumstances in which serious attention will be given to such issues, since I think most people now realize the consequences of turning a blind eye to corruption.
The quite remarkable thing after he gave this speech however, to me anyway, was his decision in relation to Willie O'Dea. It prompted me to think that perhaps the "legislative scheme" is not the only weakness we have. That decision prompted the following letter in the Independent last July 20th from a Mr. Williams in Dublin:

DPP should have charged O'Dea

In May of this year, the Director of Public Prosecutions, James Hamilton, made a speech entitled 'Prosecuting Corruption in Ireland'. He lectured on political corruption and stated: "There are still significant weaknesses in the legislative scheme."

This is the DPP of the country, who we are looking to at this time to help prosecute the white-collar crime that has plagued this country during the reign of the current Government.

And what does Mr Hamilton do? He gives Willie O'Dea a big slap on the back and tells him that he faces no charges over committing perjury.

Well done, Mr Hamilton -- another triumph for the 'them-and-us' culture in Ireland. How can you punish white-collar crime when you iron the shirts of those you should be locking up?

Darren Williams
Sandyford, Dublin
I would have to agree with him.
 

He3

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That is an interesting post there Ms.
 

soubresauts

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So what do we as a country need to do to seriously tackle and end corruption here? More powers to committed Financial & Corporate Regulators are essential. An end to all political donations by businesses must be seriously considered. And tough financial and custodial sentences have to be seen to be meted out here as a deterrent to others.
Rest assured, the Greens are here -- to put an end to corporate donations and all that gombeenism and corruption. You heard it in Gormley's Planet Bertie speech. And the breakthrough is imminent, isn't it? Patience, patience. They've only had three years or so to get moving on the issue.

Is anyone reminded of the prayer of St Augustine? "Please God, make me chaste, but not yet."

Is there any possibility that the next general election might be upon us before the Greens have put an end to corporate donations? Is the Pope a Catholic?
 

soubresauts

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Well, he says he is.
Oh, right. Thanks for suggesting that my question was inappropriate, since an affirmative answer was not what the foregoing suggested. [Edit: No, I was right first time -- in the affirmative. Sorry.]

An end to corporate donations? Don't hold your breath. For Fianna Fáil they are oxygen, the very elixir of life, the icing on the cake in the Galway tent.

Talking of that tent, you might hope that Gormley & co would pay attention to this blog.
 
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jpc

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Look at what happened to Joe Mc Anthony personally and professionally when he tried to expose corruption in the planning system during the mid seventies.
That official mindset is still as strong as ever.
 

'orebel

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Corruption has been rampant since at least the 1960s. At this stage it has become normal, they "way things are done here", shure dere's no harm, somethig for yerself big fella, where's my cut?

And those inside the tent really really do believe that things like laws are only for the little people and they don't apply to them. The level of self-delusion is staggering - these people geniunely believe that their corrupt practices are what made Ireland prosperous since the 1950s, that it does no harm, that the little people shouldn't be complaining because the way they do things works, get results, provides jobs. They really believe that - at least the hangers on and functionaries who facilitate the corruption in the public sector, councils, banks etc really believe that.

And so it continues, generation after generation.
Unfortunately they're right Sidey.
 

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