Connect with us

Real Estate

Davy and tracker scandal reveal toxic culture still at heart of Irish financial system

Published

on

Whatever you might think about the property market, the construction industry behind it has been transformed by the crash. Developers, builders and others are now subject to an onerous level of regulation – they complain the pendulum has swung too far, maybe it has – but they build to a higher spec and the industry exhibits a stronger culture of compliance.

Can the same be said of the financial sector, the other industry that played such a stellar role in our post-2008 economic meltdown?

In the next few weeks or months – the timeline isn’t significant – the State’s largest stockbroker, Davy, which is mired in a financial scandal involving its most senior staff and subject to the biggest fine ever levelled on a broker here, will most likely be taken over.

A sale process has begun and one of the parties eyeing up Davy is Bank of Ireland. The bank is itself mired in a scandal and facing a huge fine – which will be a multiple of the €4.1 million levied against Davy – for overcharging 10,000 tracker mortgage customers.

Of course this takeover scenario might not happen. Bank of Ireland is only the frontrunner in a list of candidates that might buy (rescue) the troubled stockbroker. It hasn’t yet been fined by the Central Bank of Ireland over the tracker mortgage scandal but a large penalty is coming.

Ulster Bank was last week fined €38 million by the Central Bank for its failures in the tracker scandal. The wider industry, which has admitted to more than 41,000 cases, has paid out more than €735 million to date in compensation, fines and other charges.

Maybe we are the “Wild West” of European financial services. The tag – thrown at us by the New York Times in 2005 – stung back then, the fact that it’s even remotely applicable now after 15 hard years trying to win back our financial reputation is a sorry statement of affairs.

Commentators talk about Ireland’s small financial ecosystem – how the same faces pop up in multiple areas, in public and private roles, and how this breeds cosy relationships – but that shouldn’t presuppose such financial misconduct.

The banks wrongfully took money from their tracker customers right in the heat haze of the financial crisis and, in the case of the Irish ones, directly after being bailed out by the State. Many families lost their homes as a result of this behaviour.

On the morning the Davy fine and reprimand were announced, its former chief executive Brian McKiernan issued an internal memo to staff, saying there were “no findings of actual conflict of interest or customer loss” in relation to the 2014 transaction in which businessman Patrick Kearney sold Anglo bonds via the company at a steep discount in order to settle a debt – seemingly without knowing the buyers were Davy employees who went on to sell the assets at a profit. The transaction bypassed Davy’s internal compliance function.

The memo was later retracted and sent again with the “actual conflict of interest or customer loss” line removed. For many, this was mere arrogance. The standard institutional response to a crisis – there’s nothing to see here. But this missive to staff was likely to have been picked over by lawyers and management for some time in the knowledge that it would quickly leak outside the office.

And remember the Central Bank’s finding was that Davy failed in its “ regulatory obligations in relation to conflicts of interest” by not considering if there had been one and by keeping its compliance team “in the dark” about the deal. In regulatory terms that’s enough. But why was McKiernan emboldened to state there was no conflict of interest when the finding seemed to suggest otherwise? On any objective analysis it was a clear conflict.

The fact that senior staff circumvented the firm’s own compliance team speaks volumes about the culture of the organisation.

In her testimony to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform earlier this month, Derville Rowland, who heads the Central Bank’s financial misconduct unit, described how Davy effectively stonewalled the regulator’s probe.

“We formed a view that the information provided mischaracterised the gravity and seriousness of the matter and what had in fact occurred,” she said.

The regulator had to deal with “litigious challenges” from Davy’s lawyers throughout the process.

Committee members queried therefore why the Central Bank did not level the maximum fine on Davy. Rowland said the regulator had determined that €5.9 million would be the appropriate fine but that this was reduced by 30 per cent to €4.1 million in accordance with the regulator’s settlement discount scheme because Davy had reached a settlement with the regulator- in legal parlance, copped a guilty plea.

This raises questions about the teeth we afford the regulator in these circumstances.

In her testimony, Rowland used the word “culture” in relation to Davy multiple times. And it’s this culture of compliance – or lack of – that seems to surface time and time again in our financial system. We may have overhauled the regulation of the financial sector but the “culture” has yet to catch up.

Source link

Real Estate

Social Democrats activists consider deferring request on leadership contest

Published

on

A group of Social Democrats activists who want to see a leadership election in the party is looking at deferring their request to consider such a contest until after a new general secretary is appointed to the party.

A draft letter to the party’s national executive, signed by two councillors and 14 others, seeking the leadership contest emerged on Friday evening.

The letter, which has not been sent to party authorities, requested the national executive meet to hold a vote to call a leadership election.

It pays tribute to the party’s current co-leaders Catherine Murphy and Róisín Shortall, who it states “have done exceptional work”, but adds that “it is now time to move to the next stage”.

The party released a statement later the same evening saying its TDs are “united behind co-leaders Catherine Murphy and Róisín Shortall”. This statement was shared on Twitter by all six of the party’s Dáil Deputies.

One of the councillors who signed the draft letter, Kildare representative Chris Pender, responded with his own social media post saying: “Anyone who’s read the letter will know it states we don’t have an issue with the leaders, but we believe in the democratic right to vote for that/those leaders.

“A leadership contest would give members the opportunity to show support for the current leaders, if that’s what they want.”

Cllr Cat O’Driscoll, who sits on Dublin City Council, was the other public representative who signed the draft letter.

Motivations

Sources insisted the motivations behind seeking a contest include giving the Social Democrats’ membership a say in who leads the party, as well as an issue of timing. They say with no general election expected imminently, it would give the next leader time to prepare.

It was also revealed on Friday that Brian Sheehan, a former director of the Yes Equality campaign, is to step down from his role as Social Democrats general secretary in early September. The decision is not connected with the call for a leadership election and those behind the draft letter were unaware of Mr Sheehan’s decision to leave the job.

However, it has prompted a rethink of the request for a leadership contest.

The Irish Times understands the activists are considering a new version of the letter that takes Mr Sheehan’s departure into account and would not seek a discussion about a leadership contest until after his successor is in place and has had some time in the job. A source suggested the approach with any new letter would be “a bit more cautious”.

On Monday, a party spokeswoman ruled out any contest for the leadership, either before or after the appointment of a new general secretary.

“The rules of the party state any leader must be a TD and all of our TDs are united in their support for the party leadership. The general secretary position is entirely unrelated to the party leadership,” she said.

Ms Murphy and Ms Shortall have jointly led the Social Democrats since its establishment in 2015.


Source link

Continue Reading

Real Estate

Instagrammer captures abandoned Welsh property in series of eerie photographs

Published

on

Who would live in a house like this? Instagrammer photographs abandoned Welsh property – complete with a bottle of Champagne for ‘Grandad’s’ 90th birthday, dishes still in the sink and a newspaper dating back to 1956

  • Photographs reveal the rooms have been untouched for decades and house opened bottle of Champagne  
  • Discovery was made by Instagrammer Kyle Urbex while exploring the countryside in Flintshire, North Wales 
  • Kyle said: ‘Overall the whole exploration just left me wondering the whole backstory’ 
  • ***Do YOU know who lived in the abandoned house? Contact izzy.nikolic@mailonline.co.uk*** 

Advertisement

An abandoned Welsh house has been captured in a series of eerie photographs complete with a bottle of Champagne for ‘Grandad’s’ 90th birthday and dishes still in the sink.  

Photographs reveal rooms that have been untouched for decades and reveal a bottle of bubbly with a sticker which reads: ‘Happy 90th Birthday. Sorry I can’t be there to drink this with you! Lots of love James xxx.’  

The property has been dubbed ‘Granddad’s abandoned house’ after it was discovered tucked away in the woods. 

A piano can also be seen with sheet music still in place along with clothes hanging up and dishes still in the sink.

Photographs reveal rooms that have been untouched for decades and reveal a bottle of bubbly with a sticker which reads: 'Happy 90th Birthday. Sorry I can't be there to drink this with you! Lots of love James xxx'

Pictured: A piano can also be seen with sheet music still in place along with clothes hanging up

Photographs reveal rooms that have been untouched for decades and reveal a bottle of bubbly with a sticker which reads: ‘Happy 90th Birthday. Sorry I can’t be there to drink this with you! Lots of love James xxx’

The property has been dubbed 'Granddad's abandoned house' after it was discovered tucked away in the woods. Pictured: The exterior of the property

The property has been dubbed ‘Granddad’s abandoned house’ after it was discovered tucked away in the woods. Pictured: The exterior of the property 

Random debris including a broken bicycle, piping, empty tins and folding tables and chairs were left strewn throughout the house

The discovery was made by Instagrammer Kyle Urbex (pictured) while he was exploring the countryside in Flintshire, North Wales

Random debris including a broken bicycle, piping, empty tins and folding tables and chairs were left strewn throughout the house

Mr Urbex said: 'I visited the property just over four weeks ago and getting to the actual location wasn't too bad, just a walk up a small hill and the door was wide open'

Mr Urbex said: ‘I visited the property just over four weeks ago and getting to the actual location wasn’t too bad, just a walk up a small hill and the door was wide open’

The discovery was made by Instagrammer Kyle Urbex while he was exploring the countryside in Flintshire, North Wales.

Kyle also spotted a newspaper dating back to 1956 in what he believes was once someone’s ‘dream family home.’

He said: ‘I visited the property just over four weeks ago and getting to the actual location wasn’t too bad, just a walk up a small hill and the door was wide open.

‘Once inside I instantly saw the whole location was eerie because it was a house full to the brim of memories, ranging from clothes in the bedroom to old decaying pianos which once may have entertained many.

‘The porch area had been trashed, however the seating still remained intact and of course the champagne bottle for his 90th birthday still left on the fireplace.

He added: 'Once inside I instantly saw the whole location was eerie because it was a house full to the brim of memories, ranging from clothes in the bedroom to old decaying pianos which once may have entertained many'

Dishes are left undone in the sink in the kitchen

He added: ‘Once inside I instantly saw the whole location was eerie because it was a house full to the brim of memories, ranging from clothes in the bedroom to old decaying pianos which once may have entertained many’

Kyle says he has now been left wondering about the story behind the house. He added: ‘While the place appears to have been ransacked by vandals, clothes still hang in wardrobes; one of the few signs of the home it once was’

Kyle also spotted a newspaper dating back to 1956 in what he believes was once someone's 'dream family home'

Kyle also spotted a newspaper dating back to 1956 in what he believes was once someone’s ‘dream family home’

Mr Urbex added: 'Overall the whole exploration just left me wondering the whole backstory and how somebody could just leave so much memories and cherished possessions behind'

Mr Urbex added: ‘Overall the whole exploration just left me wondering the whole backstory and how somebody could just leave so much memories and cherished possessions behind’

‘I found it quite sad really given all the memories just left to be forgotten about. As well as the house there was a caravan hidden at the back in all the overgrowth which had more memories inside, old books and so on.

‘I managed to uncover an old bike in the shed which looked like it had been there quite a while.

‘Alongside all of these findings I came across a newspaper dated from November 3 1956.’

Kyle says he has now been left wondering about the story behind the house.

He added: ‘While the place appears to have been ransacked by vandals, clothes still hang in wardrobes; one of the few signs of the home it once was.

‘Overall the whole exploration just left me wondering the whole backstory and how somebody could just leave so much memories and cherished possessions behind.’

Advertisement

Source link

Continue Reading

Real Estate

Foley to bring school reopening plan to Cabinet on Tuesday

Published

on

Minister for Education Norma Foley says she has every confidence schools will reopen fully from late August and early September.

Ms Foley said there was ongoing engagement between her department and public health officials on the matter but all schools were set to reopen.

Strong mitigation measures would be in place in schools to ensure that they would continue to be controlled environments, she told RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show on Monday.

Covid-19 infection rates among children were at their highest when children were not at school and public health experts had pointed out “on a consistent basis to schools being a very significantly controlled environment”.

The safe operation of the Leaving Certificate exams and enhanced summer camps indicated that the safe operation of education could be maintained, she said.

A plan would be put in place to allow schools to “draw down” CO2 monitors and the Minister said she was confident there would be enough monitors for all schools by the start of the new school year.

In relation to Covid-19 vaccines for children, Ms Foley said the “expertise” lay with the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) from which her department would take guidance.

“I have received confirmation that the 16 to 18-year-old cohort should be in a position for online registration in the coming days, and I have been advised that the 15-year-olds cohort are still being considered by NIAC and there has been no definitive timeline given,” she added.

Ms Foley will bring a plan to Cabinet on Tuesday outlining enhanced public information campaigns, the outcome of antigen testing pilots, and the purchase of C02 monitors to assist in ventilating classrooms.

Capacity limits on school transport services will also remain in place.

Government sources were adamant on Sunday that second-level education would resume in the autumn, despite concerns among public-health officials that the wave could grow following the reopening of indoor dining today, before peaking in September.

“Schools will reopen,” a senior Coalition source said.

Source link

Continue Reading

Trending

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates 
directly on your inbox.

You have Successfully Subscribed!