As the Deputy will be aware, I am committed to introducing a Central Bank (amendment) Bill that will increase individual accountability in the financial sector. As I have stated previously, the need to rebuild trust in the banking sector is a priority for this Government. Indeed, international evidence illustrates that improvements in banking culture, through increased individual accountability, lead to better consumer protection and financial stability outcomes.
In 2017, I asked the Central Bank to prepare a report on the current cultures, behaviours and the associated risks in the retail banks and the actions that may be taken to ensure that banks prioritise customer issues in the future. Following my request, in July of last year the Central Bank published the report, Behaviour and Culture of the Irish Retail Banks.
My officials have been working on the details of a Central Bank (amendment) Bill, which will address the recommendations made in the report and a number of other policy matters, including statutory changes following on from the banking Inquiry, potential changes related to Private Member’s Bills and other matters.
The main proposals by the Central Bank in the report to enhance individual accountability include conduct standards, a senior executive accountability regime and enhancements to the Central Bank's current fitness and probity regime and the enforcement regime.
In preparing its report the Central Bank cooperated extensively with the Dutch Central Bank as it is one of the leaders in the field of financial services culture sphere. Separately, my Department has focused on the implementation and lessons from the UK’s senior managers’ regime and conduct standards given the close relationship between the two financial sectors. This is particularly valid given the similar common law legal system so we can learn from the experiences of the UK.
The ongoing work between the Central Bank and my officials has focused on developing possible wording for legislative amendments and considering this wording in the context of constitutional protections and existing legal provisions.
I have previously stated in this House that I intended to seek Government approval to draft the heads of a Bill by the end of quarter one this year. Notwithstanding that Brexit-related issues have caused this timeline to be adjusted, my intention is to progress this matter expeditiously so that I can seek approval to draft the heads of the Bill before the summer recess.