Friday, February 13, 2009

He's still not unemployed

Okay, in today's Irish Independent, Niamh Brennan says that the IL&P transactions with Anglo-Irish bank "meet" the definition of "financial statement fraud", which is an offense in Irish law. F R A U D.

Now, let's go back to the Minister for Finance. He missed the bit in the report about this fraud because, well, he didn't read the report. But, even if had read the report and, in particular, the bit about the fraud, he wouldn't have done anything differently.

It really is mind boggling. Even if he'd been aware that these two banks had engaged in criminal activity it wouldn't have bothered him. Shareholders and potential new investors be damned. You may think the law is on your side, but it's not really.

So, my theory is that this is a big, big problem for Ireland as a potential destination for overseas investment. Am I right? Maybe not. From what I can see in the British & American media, the reports have basically overlooked this element of the Anglo story. The reports have focused on what went on between the two banks and not on what the government didn't do but implied it would have done, if the Minister had read the report last October.

I still think that somewhere down the line, all this mismanagement and, well, how about malfeasance by the government is going to rise up and bite us just when we might have hoped that things were going to get better. But, whether or not I'm right about the overseas investment doesn't change the fact that the Irish government has given me the impression that the laws intended to protect me as a potential investor in Irish shares don't actually protect me. They may be on the books, but the government will overlook them if there are big banks involved in deliberately deceiving investors.

It may be that Irish people will be very shy about returning to the market knowing that game is rigged and not in their favor. It may be that Irish pension funds will be less willing to invest in the Irish market. Time will tell.