As previously noted, the Northern Ireland Department of Enterprise, Trade and Industry had written to six directors of the [in adminstration] Presbyterian Mutual Society [PMS] to inform them that the department has decided “that it is in the public interest to seek disqualification orders” against them.
And as I said then.
A sceptic might ask whether the disqualifications are connected to the announcement by the UK Chancellor in October of a £25million grant and a £175million loan to the NI Executive for the PMS [reg may be required].
And whether any action will be taken against Departmental civil servants [or the Minister]?
No answers to those questions, but the News Letter follows up on their earlier report to identify the six former PMS directors contacted by DETI.
The former PMS directors being prosecuted are the former company secretary Colin Ferguson, Philip D Black and David James Clements (both accountants), Presbyterian ministers the Rev David McConaghy and the Rev Sidlow Samuel McFarland and church elder Albert McCormick. Aside from Mr Ferguson and Mr Black, the other four respondants are understood to be retirees in their seventies.
The News Letter report adds
However, one independent expert in the field last night questioned the context of the prosecutions.
“It would appear that the same legal test which these former PMS directors are alleged to have failed has also been failed by other banks and buildings societies in the UK,” he said.
“However it appears it may have been decided for reasons of political expediency not to take action in those cases for fear those banks might relocate out of of the UK. But the fact that the regulatory systems for Industrial and Provident Societies [like the PMS] in Northern Ireland have now been brought into line with Great Britain implies an admission of culpability by government.”
The News Letter yesterday asked the Financial Services Authority if any action was being taken against directors in any other British-based bank, regarding matters occurring since 2008. The FSA declined to comment.