I welcome this section because it will allow the court to disqualify firms which can no longer be regarded as being fit and proper to be involved in investment activities. Is there a time frame for those who are disqualified before they can be allowed back or are they disqualified completely?
Investment Intermediaries Bill, 1995: Committee Stage.
If they are disqualified, they will have to reapply to the court. In assessing their reapplication, the reasons why they were disqualified in the first place will be taken into account. For example, if they are guilty of a serious misappropriation of funds, I take it that they will not be reauthorised. If it was a much lesser level of offence then, given a period of time, the application will be given consideration. That is as much as I can say. I cannot be more specific.
So that means they can get back.
Yes, they can reapply; but if somebody is an absolute blackguard, they will not have much prospect.
The Minister outlined to us that sections 50 and 51 deal with compensation. Will the Minister ensure that the taxpayer or the Government will not have to carry the can for rogue operators? A number of people have lost all of their life savings, with disastrous consequences. I hope that this Bill will rectify that situation and that people will be compensated. How are they to be compensated in the case of something disastrous happening in the future?
That is covered in a number of sections. The regulators — the Central Bank and the Department of Enterprise and Employment — are given an indemnity so that the taxpayer is not going to pick up the tab. That is the answer to the Senator's first question. There is a bonding system whereby a minimum bond of £50,000 must be taken out and it goes up according to turnover. On top of that, and perhaps more importantly, there is an EU directive due on investor compensation which, if we had it now, we would have put in this Bill. We understand that this directive is now practically complete and we will be bringing further legislation forward as soon as we get the agreed compensation directive. That will provide for levels of compensation, so the investor will be protected much better than at the moment.
I welcome sections 73 and 74 and said so in my Second Stage speech. It is only proper that difficulties with the Bill can be referred to the people who lay down the laws — the Houses of the Oireachtas. I commend the Minister and the people who drafted this Bill. It is only right that when the Central Bank have appointed an investigator to deal with any misappropriations, the case can be brought before the Houses of the Oireachtas. I welcome that provision in the Bill.