Written Answers. - Financial Services Regulator.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

39 Mr. Broughan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment when she will publish the proposed financial services authority Bill; and the steps, if any, she has taken since June 1997 to end irregularities in the financial services sector. [19882/98]

I will shortly submit to Government a joint memorandum with my colleague the Minister for Finance seeking approval for the establishment of a single financial regulator which would regulate, banks, building societies, insurance companies and other financial undertakings.

While careful consideration needs to be given to the detailed and complex legislative and organisational changes that will be required to establish the regulator, it is nonetheless my intention that legislation be introduced on this matter at the earliest possible date.

Since June 1997, I have taken a number of major actions in relation to alleged or possible irregularities in the financial services sector. These include the appointment of authorised officers to National Irish Bank Financial Services Limited and the petitioning of the High Court to have inspectors appointed to investigate initially National Irish Bank Financial Services Ltd. and subsequently National Irish Bank itself.
I have also initiated a number of corporate investigations under section 19 of the Companies Act, 1990, arising from the McCracken tribunal report.
Last March my colleague, the Minister of State with responsibility for Labour, Trade and Consumer Affairs requested the Director of Consumer Affairs to carry out an investigation into the practices and procedures employed by credit institutions in regard to the imposition of charges, in order to ensure that the interests of consumers were adequately protected.
An investigation is also being carried out by officials of my Department into allegations of "churning" of insurance policies by Irish Life.