Last week, two things happened in the world of high finance which caused understandable public outrage. First came the announcement that the Government will again allow the payment of outrageous bonuses to elite staff at AIB, a bank bailed out by the Irish people, as the Taoiseach will recall. Then, we had the news that 16 employees at Davy, many of them senior executives, had broken the rules, broken the regulations, for personal financial gain. The toxic culture that brought this country to its knees a decade ago, it seems, is truly alive and well. People now ask themselves, correctly, are we back to the beginning. Here we go again.
Let us look at the facts. This Davy scam was uncovered in 2014. It has taken six years to get to this point and still no individuals have been held to account. Those who were responsible continued to play a dominant role in the financial sector throughout those six years. Tá an Banc Ceannais ag lorg cumhachtaí breise ionas go bhféadfaidh sé déileáil leis seo le breis agus trí bliana anuas ach ní dhearna Fine Gael ná an Rialtas aon rud chun freagra a thabhairt ar na glaonna seo. The Minister promised legislation to allow senior executives to be held to account before the summer of 2019. We are two years on and still nothing. Let us face it: this recent scandal is not an isolated event. Look at the tracker mortgage issue. That impacted on 40,000 people yet nobody has been held to account.
Perhaps there is little wonder at that when we consider the revolving door between the financial industry and politics, a door that just keeps on spinning, where we see Ministers of State seamlessly move from politics to jobs in high finance. One day, their job is to hold the financial industry to account and, the next day, they are in fighting the corner of that industry as lobbyists. Indeed, it is only when a record fine was issued by the Central Bank against Davy last week that things moved on a little bit. It was only public anger that brought about resignations at Davy.
At the weekend, we had called on the NTMA to drop Davy as the primary dealer in Irish Government bonds, and I welcome that that has happened. However, this decision and the fine are corporate sanctions. Not a single individual from the 16 executives has been held to account. The Minister for Finance, Deputy Donohoe, said yesterday that all those responsible have left the firm but that is not really accurate. They have left one cog in the corporate structure but they remain directors in key parts of the overarching organisation. Last week, the Taoiseach told the Dáil that the fine would impact on behaviour in the financial sector. Does he still hold that view, given the Central Bank has stated and set out how Davy frustrated its investigation at every turn? We still do not know who most of the 16 rule-breakers are. I am not asking the Taoiseach to name them but we need to know where they are now and where they work now. Do any of those involved hold positions in Government Departments or in banks in which the State has a stake? Does the Taoiseach know? Has he looked into this? Can he tell the Dáil what legal consequences those involved will face? Does he accept that they should be independently investigated?
For years, the Tánaiste and the Minister for Finance have sat on legislation to hold individual financial rule-breakers to account. This has to end. Will the Taoiseach commit to enacting such legislation?