After the #AngloTapes revelations, “you cannot put people in jail for stupidity…”

This a great conversation from last night’s Prime Time Special (apologies for cutting out Paul Williams of the Irish Indo who’s scoop is driving most of this renewed and energetic discussion)…

Worth highlighting is Colm McCarthy’s point that whilst any Irish citizen can download a 2000 page report of the collapse of Lehmann Brothers, there is virtually no bank by bank explanation as to how every single bank in the country had to be bailed out by either the Irish or the British taxpayer…

Antoin Murphy notes here that the proposed parliamentary investigation will (under current constitutional position) be severely undermined by the limited powers available to the Oireachtas to compell witnesses from abroad to attend, or even to draw adverse conclusions against individuals.

Noel Whelan argues that there is little reason why there has been no bank by bank inquiry, then goes on to suggest that people want is: clarity, catharsis, context (the wider culture that led to the disaster) and convictions.

And as you get to the end, Antoin Murphy points out the bleedin obvious, ie that most of what happened was stupidity, not illegality, “and you cannot put people in jail for stupidity…” He also points out that in the onrush to put people in the public stocks, what generally happens in that small fish get snagged and the big fish generally get away…

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  • Paulk

    It does seem astonishing that there have been absolutely no official inquiries into why an entire countries banking sector collasped and why there have been so few arrests relatively speaking. Coupled with the fact that Gardai knew about these tapes for years and did nothing about them would point to in my opinion, there being little will from the Guards or politicians for a wide ranging prosecution of bankers possibly due to them discovering the truth by accident. We already know Irish government figures at the absolute highest level were golf buddies with a lot of the Anglo crowd and i’m sure they they would’ve played a few 18’s with the parties not in govt. just in case, what would one of them say faced with inquiries and criminal charges about these former friends? Cue a lot of platitudes, heat and noise but very little action from Kenny.

  • “and you cannot put people in jail for stupidity…”

    Actually you can and we do.

    The laws and regulations are there in relation to financial and corporate impropriety. The political establishment in Ireland simply has no genuine wish or desire to apply them. I’m sure others can come up with the reasons for why that may be.

  • Mick Fealty

    Which laws though Sionnach? The tough job is to figure what is criminal and what isn’t. What is the line between legitimare exploitation, and crimibal conspiracy?

  • The deliberate misleading or withholding of information from regulatory officials? Reckless or fraudulent corporate and financial management? Regulations and penalties for wrongdoing exist but no one is willing to test the judicial waters by imposing them.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Hi, An Sionnach Fionn, if I’d tried to put over the sort of financial misrepresentations we’re hearing while I was handling my own budgets in the Film Industry, Mr Spielberg would have had me over for fraud.

  • Harry Flashman

    I believe one of the characters under discussion filed a report with the Irish Stock Exchange in which he said the banks fundamentals were sound. The report was filed a few weeks after he was recorded here saying that he knew the bank was in very severe diffs.

    Providing information which you know to be misleading to the stock exchange is a criminal offence and just just a piece of oul’ blather.

  • Barnshee

    For those of us in the dark -What about a few references to Laws apparently broken (companies act whatever section x or Banking act section Y)

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Bravo, Harry, now we just need an honest lawyer to advise us all, (please excuse the oxymoron!).

  • Greenflag

    It’s like trying to shear a pig .Lots of squealing but very little fur from either the bankster pigs or their political pig partners 🙁

    There are times in history when the guillotine or equivalent become necessary for what the ‘expert ‘ panel above refer to as ‘catharsis’ . The politicians better get a move on or the next election may see a political swing that makes the last electoral near wipe out of FF look like a narrow defeat !!

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Hi Greenflag, that scene in Gabriel over the Whitehouse you offered the link for offered me my own short moment of “Catharsis.” But, I doubt if the Tweedledums we put in Dáil Éireann next time around will be that different to the Tweedledees they replace. And as I mentioned elsewhere, the slogan “If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal” was whitewashed off the wall at Short Strand the same day it went up during our last elections. There just must be a better way, and I’m not braving the drizzle for anything short of a local “páirtí cúig réalta” that might just rid us of what David Crookes has described as “the present one-party-rule-in-each-of-two-separate-fiefdoms that we have at the moment.”

    For any vote cast at this time simply supports a periodic reorganisation of the entrenched status quo that Yeats so presciently describes in his lines: “What if the church and the state / Are the mob that howls at the door.”

  • Greenflag

    ‘I doubt if the Tweedledums we put in Dáil Éireann next time around will be that different to the Tweedledees they replace’

    The Tweedle Dees (FF ) were decimated in 2011 following on from the banking crisis . The Tweedle Dumbs were elected to ‘fix ‘ the problem . They’ve done virtually nothing barring brown nosing their way or slavishly accepting the diktat of the IMF/ECB/ German &French Banks etc . The Irish Labour PArty has been compromised to the point at which Gilmore is everyday more and more resembling Quisling and his Party are facing a meltdown next time out from what I’m hearing. The much hyped FF renewal also hyped here on slugger is a joke . The Independents with the exception of Shane Ross have proved to have no coherence as a group and none other than Ross have emerged to provide a voice of opposition to the establishment .

    If SF can develop a coherent economic policy and put up enough candidates we could see another major political shift if the country continues to suffer austerity . But then I read that Mr Osborne is now forecasting ‘austerity’ also to 2015 as the UK economy has failed to respond to Cameron’s policies .

  • Mick Fealty

    Hmmmm… Hype? Where

  • Alias

    The advantage of releasing these tapes is, as far as the europhiles are concerned, that the focus is placed on individuals and particular banks rather than on a eurosystem which has generated non-performing loans that Constantin Gurdgiev estimates to be as high as 3 trillion Euros. This is the result of a ‘stupid’ system and not the result of stupid bankers (most of whom are highly intelligent and capable).

  • ‘You cannot put people in jail for stupidity…’

    I’m thinking you can, directors duties and being in breach being one perhaps, or as Harry noted, releasing fraudulent or misleading information in relation to the balance sheet to the ISEQ but that’s an aside.

  • Mick Fealty

    It’s hard to be certain without a bank by bank inquiry… Bumped into a government TD last night who said there’s no big appetite in the Dail for an Oireachtas based inquiry…

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Alias, “This is the result of a ‘stupid’ system and not the result of stupid bankers (most of whom are highly intelligent and capable).” as the tapes so powerfully display for us all.

    But seriously, are you suggesting that the bankers were not involved in the creation of the mess, in any way? And I do not think that it’s the banker’s intellegence that is under scrutiny, its clearly their morals. And what their intellegenece was used for, ie: to fleece the public of money by making silly loans for unnecessary building projects, casino “investment”, and de-stabalising the entire system in tandem with all the sillynesses inherent in forcing one currency on a continent with dramatically uneven economic development. All to secure big bonuses, and no ones intellegence is ever worth millions of euros in bonus payments.

    I dare say that Felix Dzerzhinsky surrounded himself with “highly intelligent and capable” men, otherwise Bolshevism would not have survived its early years, but how they survived is the significant issue (by the destruction of millions of lives).

    I agree that the emphasis is being placed on individuals, but it is always (ALWAYS) individual people who create and manage systems. How else do they come about. No one activly involved is innocent.

  • michael-mcivor

    “You cant put people in jail for being stupid ”

    We support this every day when our wages pay the prison-guards-

  • Mick, you would not need a bank by bank inquiry to ascertain if the directors exercised the requisite skill and judgement in a role and acted in the best interests of a company for a person with the qualifications and experience that each director should have, unless of course you would like to share with us how this evidence could not be gathered without resort to an inquiry?

    An inquiry merely kicks prosecutions down the road for about 3-5 years, meanwhile my mates in chambers get paid really well and pay off that house that was in negative equity with any tribunal or court cases that flow from it. Get the evidence together NOW, get them to court for something and just gather more and more, dragging their asses from their cells back to the Four Courts every time you have something more because right now people do not see justice being served, they see these guys ruining the country in connivance with FF and cheerleaders in the media and little being done to hold them to account.

  • “You cant put people in jail for being stupid ”

    More’s the pity.
    But, as Seann points out, it isn’t their intelligence but their (lack of) morals.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Hello Mister Joe, on a serious note, much as I resist it usually, you should attempt to look out a small private bank with strong leverage on their loans. There are a few still operating in England, and in the United States, I don’t know about Canada. They hold to old fashioned banking principals, but ask for a large deposit from clients, and get the reputation of being rich peoples banks although most people I know who bank in such banks have small change as opposed to those depositing in “real” banks. This is your best bet in the Tsunami thats coming. Again, good luck!

    As Saint Teresa said, “All evil is actually ignorance.”

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Damn thing posted before I could unpack:

    ‘As Saint Teresa said, “All evil is actually ignorance.” ‘

    Its an expansion of this issue of their lack of morals as just an other form of stupidity. But no matter how slick and crafty they may be in their activities (strange how these words never seem to be used in the context of the bankers) the issue is their immoral behaviour, not their intellegence, or lack of it.

  • Greenflag

    @ Alias ,

    This is the result of a ‘stupid’ system and not the result of stupid bankers (most of whom are highly intelligent and capable).

    The USA is not in the Eurozone and they had the very same problem -I.e banksters lying to their Government re the total extent of their failure so if it’s the ‘system ‘ thats stupid then it’s more than the Eurozone . It’s the entire western financial system along with it’s global currency wars and so called ‘free trade ‘

    As always Alias you extend your praiseworthy comments to the ‘haves ‘ and looters of society . I’m sure you are correct in stating that most bankers are ‘intelligent and capable ‘ .It’s just that the biggest bankers who ran the system happened to be also sociopaths with the ethical morality of a Bernie Madoff or an Adolf Eichmann 🙁

  • Greenflag

    @ Seann Ui Neill

    Ironically I’ve been to Lisieux in Normandy the home town of your quoted St Theresa .

    But no she was wrong on that one . Some evil is not ignorant -some indeed is acutely aware of what it’s doing and why and will deliberately try to avoid or escape the consequences of their evil . I could list you a thousand examples starting with the first letter of the alphabet . A is for Auschwitz -B is for Belsen —- G is for Gulag – S is for Srebenica etc etc etc .

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Hi Greenflag, yes, I broadly agree with you about their sly and crafty awareness, but I think the issue Teresa was speaking of is the “no man is an island” issue.

    Although these crooks may sucessfully get away with it, they are ignorant of the long term effect of their actions, and are creating a world that will profoundly harm their own children, if any world is left after they have sucked it dry. But then the sociopaths who have brought us all to this economic condition will have no concern with ANYONE else, even their own children’s futures.

    Check out this definition:

    Does it apply to a banker (or developer, or politician, or fracker) near you?

  • DC

    The only way to teach these guys, the bankers, is to legislate new powers that freeze their assets and bank accounts and those that were stupid are made to pay some relatively small amount back.

    The state needs to dispossess these guys so they know how it feels to be unfairly (in their eyes) dispossessed of things, their houses, their money, their wealth. Just like lots of irish citizens have been dispossessed already, some now living and working in England up sticks and left.

    This wouldn’t be done in spite but for the reasons that the crash has not (apart from a very small number of bankers) hurt them in the pocket that much even though these guys are personally responsible for the structural collapse and bankrupting of their banks

    As Greenflag said before somewhere on here – like a bird of prey they have swooped down and got their fish while the going was good, thinking no one would ever take this back off them. That’s why they are so cocky in the tapes, bail out our banks, not that it matters to us, we won’t be paying for it and if even the shares pop and become worthless we have made millions on millions personally running the bank into the ground.

    All political parties (ok maybe not all, as some might not have the credibility to fix a problem they created) should work together and put people before party in a bid to take on ‘the power of the most dynamic economic and social system in history’. The vested interests of the capitalist system and its own persuasive propaganda that always blames the system whenever it blows up and not the persons behind it pulling the strings. This is to ensure that the wealthy can walk away from a problem of their own making while the public pick up the bill because supposedly no one is to blame specifically, so everyone must pick up the bill.

  • SeaanUiNeill


    “All political parties should work together and put people before party in a bid to take on ‘the power of the most dynamic economic and social system in history’. The vested interests of the capitalist system and its own persuasive propaganda that always blames the system whenever it blows up and not the persons behind it pulling the strings.”

    Gable wall graffiti: “The people who are destroying the world have names and faces.”

    The problem is that when we name individually them they sue us individually! But its only by actually fixing the blame on people rather than institutions that we will ever begin to engage with the problem.

  • Greenflag

    @DC ,

    Well said and I agree wholeheartedly with your comment above .And yes the obfuscation that it wwas all just the ‘stupidity ‘ of the system and a few rotten apples and lets now move along to the next one -is the kind of whitewash that electorates need to be wary of as ‘politicians ‘ of all parties -left and right -attempt to wriggle away from the consequences of their aiding and abetting the chaos which ensued and which despite pronouncements to the contrary NOT gone away .

    During the years of the ‘Savings & Loans ‘ financial swindle in the USA in the 1980’s -thousands were jailed . That has’nt happened during this era for several reasons .The main one being the ‘banksters ‘ essential;ly took over the legislative process and wrote the financial legislation for ‘bought ‘ politicians that would protect them i.e the banksters -if their manipulative financial machinations ever caused a system wide collapse .

    In the early 19th century the Second Bank of the USA (charted 1816 for 20 years ) with capital of 35 million dolalrs ‘It’s goal was to control the notes issued and reign in over speculative private banks . Before 1816 notes were issued in various states by private banks.By 1823 the Second Bank had become a financial behemoth .and had become a monopolistic charge on the economy that was regulating small farmers and businesses out of existence ,When President Andrew Jackson’s advisers told him Nicholas BIddle the then bankster had worked against him (Jackson) during his campaign the ‘People’s President ‘ decided the institution (Second Bank ) was a menace to democracy by virtue of the financial power it wielded over politicians . Jackson then launched an anti lobbyist anti trust war against Biddle .

    ”if this President thinks that because he scalped Indians –he is to have his way with the banks ,he is mistaken said Biddle who tried to weaken Jackson’s popularity by curbing loans and calling in debts and political favours .

    When the banks charter was up it had to come before Congress for renewal .The face off between Biddle and Jackson was perceived as a power struggle between the common man and the financial control vested in the conniving elite . Congress voted to reissue the charter (no surprise there) but Jackson crushed it with a presidential veto pn the grounds that it was only making rich men richer . Government funds were withdrawn and deposited in 20 smaller banks nationwide . The Second Bank lost it’s special status and within a few years was bankrupt.

    ‘I have put to death that mammoth of corruption and power the Bank of the United States ‘ Jackson declared triumphantly . Biddle shan’t have the public monies to break down public administration .

    Compare Jackson’s determination to do what’s right for the common man with todays leaders ? Bush, Obama , Brown , Cameron etc etc .Not a one of them has confronted the banksters or made a serious attempt to break up the biggest of these modern day financial tyrants .

    And just look at our own minnows in Aglo Irish etc getting away with lying barefacedly to Government officials and even one of them Drumm pleading ‘poverty ‘ in Connecticut from inside an 6 million dollar mansion .

    As I’ve said before hanging is too good for these b******ds .

    ‘To them that hath shall be given and to them that hath not -even that which they haven’t yet got -will be taken from them .

    was the working motto for these sociopathic banksters . These people don’t learn or as Seann UI Neill put it ‘do remorse ‘ .New laws will have to be drawn up so that these criminal types will not only never see the light of day again but their assets will be entirely confiscated including those of near family members who may have benefited from their criminality.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    New laws, and new politicians……

  • DC


    Of course it wasn’t the system that was to blame as how come other banks weren’t affected such as Metzler Bank (with an office in Dublin)?

    Excerpt from Germany’s SPIEGEL – interview with Wolfensohn, former world bank president:

    …You have a few examples in this country and a few examples in your own country of institutions that have been more sophisticated. Take (German private bank) Metzler Bank, which I happen to know very well. It was not in any of this stuff, but that’s because Fritz Metzler is very conservative and smart, and there are a few people here that are equally conservative as well.

    So basically CEOs of certain banks remodelled their banks in a way that created short term gain to them, but long term pain for the taxpayer, austerity inflicted by the banking sector.

    (Some interesting background to the Metzler bank in particular – maybe experiencing real family pain in the running of that bank has stood it in good stead, while others in the banking sector have lost the run of themselves, the Hornbys, the Goodwins, the Drumms ‘Get into the f***ing simple speak: ‘We need the moolah, you have it, so you’re going to give it to us and when would that be?’ We’ll start there,” ‘: