12/6/16: Few Thoughts on Anglo Trial Verdicts

A friend recently did me a small service by summing up my comments on twitter on the Anglo Irish Bank – Irish Life & Permanent roundabout loans verdict:

I have provided an expert testimony on the matter in April in a court case involving the Central Bank, the Department of Finance and the Attorney General of Ireland, focusing precisely on the nature of the relationship between the Irish Financial Regulation authorities and the misconduct by banks and banks boards prior to 2008 Global Financial Crisis.  Quoting from my expert opinion:

“Part 4: Regulatory enforcement effectiveness and efficiency

46. In my opinion, and based on literature referenced herein, objectives of the function of enforcement in financial regulation are best served by structuring enforcement processes and taking robust actions so as to:
1. Target first and foremost the core breaches of regulatory and supervisory regimes, starting with systemic-level breaches prior to proceeding to specific institutional or individual level infringements [Targeting];
2. Timely execute enforcement actions, both in the context of market participants’ timing and timing relevant to the efficiency and effectiveness of uncovering the actual facts of specific alleged infringements [Timely execution];
3. Prevent or at the very least reduce, monitor and address any potential conflicts of interest in enforcement-related actions [Conflict of interest minimisation];
4. Assure that enforcement actions are taken within the constraints of the regulatory regime applicable at the time of alleged committing of regulatory breaches, while following well-defined and ex ante transparent processes [Applicability and quality of regulation and enforcement];

5. Assure that regulatory enforcement actions do not contradict or duplicate other forms of enforcement and remedial measures, including legal settlements [Consistency of legal and administrative frameworks].”
In simple terms, systemic lack of imposition of meaningful sanctions on senior policy, regulatory and supervisory decision-makers active in the Irish financial services in the period prior to the Global Financial Crisis severely undermines the signalling and deterrence functions of regulatory enforcements. Convicting bankers for mis-deeds is fine, but not sanctioning regulatory and supervisory officials is not conducive to establishing any tangible credibility to the regulatory enforcement regime. Worse, it establishes a false sense of security that the system has been repaired and strengthened by convictions achieved, whilst in reality, the system remains vulnerable to exactly the same dynamics and risks of collusion between regulators and supervisors and the new financial services executives.
It is, perhaps, telling that my counterparts providing expert opinions in the case on behalf of the Central Bank, Department of Finance and the Attorney General of Ireland have based their analysis on the axiomatic assumption that no regulatory, supervisory and enforcement staff can ever be held liable for their actions or inactions in the events and processes that led to the Global Financial Crisis. No matter what they have done or refused to do. Full impunity must apply.