Written answers

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Department of Finance

Central Bank of Ireland Investigations

Photo of Pádraig MacLochlainnPádraig MacLochlainn (Donegal North East, Sinn Fein)
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39. To ask the Minister for Finance the period back in time investigators from the Financial Regulator of the Central Bank can investigate; and if it would be expected that based on a complaint going back many years, the regulator would examine the records of the company-financial institution in question over the maximum allowable period of time. [47270/13]

Photo of Michael NoonanMichael Noonan (Minister, Department of Finance; Limerick City, Fine Gael)
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I have been informed by the Central Bank that while, in theory, the Central Bank is not restricted from investigating matters which date back several years, the tools available to the Central Bank to take action, including sanction, against a regulated entity on foot of any findings of such an investigation may be limited by a number of factors. The investigative powers available to the Central Bank are governed by the obligations and laws that existed at the time of the alleged activity. For example, the administrative sanctioning powers available to the Central Bank under Part IIIC of the Central Bank Act 1942, as amended, were introduced by the Central Bank and Financial Services Authority of Ireland Act 2004. These powers took effect on 1 August 2004 and, as such, are only available to use in relation to prescribed contraventions suspected to have taken place on or after that date.

In the case of alleged inappropriate activity occurring within the allowable period of time, the Central Bank would still use its discretion in determining the value and likelihood of success in investigating matters which date back over a number of years. Issues such as the likely difficulty in obtaining records and information and identifying relevant individuals would be considered along with any other matters which impact on the likelihood of achieving a successful outcome.

It should be noted that the Central Bank (Supervision and Enforcement) Act, 2013 introduced a new extended limitation period of three years for the institution of proceedings for a relevant offence under financial services law.

Where a regulated entity is suspected of having committed a criminal offence, the powers of the Central Bank to pursue such matters may be limited by the statute of limitations.

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