Eagles, Vultures And Turkeys

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31/1/2017 Mmid-term review of Capital Plan. Pictured are Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan, TD and Minister for Public Expenditure, Paschal Donohoe, TD as they arrive at the media briefing about the approach that will be taken to the mid-term review of the Capital Plan, ‘Building on Recovery: Infrastructure and Capital Investment 2016-2021’, which was published in September 2015. Photograph: Sam Boal / RollingNews.ie

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From top: Minister for Finance Michael Noonan; Tony Groves

In the financial world, there are rules – lots of them.

Many of them are arbitrary, some are helpful and then there are a handful of ones that are plain old common sense.

Tony Groves writes:

There’s a famous (or should that be infamous) episode of barbarity carried out against the Roman Empire in 88BC, known as the Asiatic Vespers.

The people of Asia Minor, fed up of Roman rules, Roman taxes and Roman hegemony, rose up violently. In just one day, the Roman population across Asia Minor was slaughtered; it’s estimated between 80,000 – 150,000 people were killed. This was a scrupulously prepared and viciously executed plan.

The fallout of which led to a series of wars that would last decades and pile countless more bodies on to the fire. Nonetheless, the Asiatic Vespers stand as a ruthless warning from history. A government (Rome was still a Republic) that has lost its legitimacy has lost its mandate to govern.

This week we’ve seen, for the first time in its history, the Public Accounts Committee have submitted findings supported by the majority and not unanimously.

This is a significant break of protocol and not just because the disagreement was over the wording about the Minister for Finance Michael Noonan and his handling (or alleged mishandling) of the Project Eagle case.

It was significant because it was part of another underlying trend at the hypocritical heart of Irish politics. A secret 11th commandment not included in the Bible; Thou shalt do as we say, but thou shalt not do as we do.

You see, we’ve been lectured for weeks, whether by Pat Kenny calling us thick, or Alan Kelly calling us populists, or Simon Coveney saying something. I can never remember what Simon says…

Anyway, apparently we have to pay water charges or we risk EU fines. We had to have austerity because we all partied. We have to have accept families in hotels because the banks’ balance sheets are still vulnerable. So on and so forth.

In the financial world, there are rules, lots of them and, contrary to popular opinion, these rules are overseen by a regulator. Many of these rules are arbitrary, some are helpful and then there are a handful of ones that are plain old common sense.

One such common sense rule relates to financial dealings with Politically Exposed Persons, or PEP’s.

In dealing with the EU Anti-Money Laundering Directive there are different criteria, based on the individual/entity and the service provided.

They roughly fall under three headings: Simplified Due Diligence, Standard Due Diligence and Enhanced Due Diligence. A voucher for a Macari’s Snack Box to the first person who correctly guesses which category politicians fall into.

Michael Noonan made a bad judgement call in meeting Cerberus the day before the sale of Project Eagle. This sale has resulted in a loss to the State in the range of €220 million. I’m not going to rake over the coals of this toxic fire sale. You can do that here and here.

I am going to point out that a Department of Finance, that is doing its job, might look into the EU Anti-Money Laundering Act. I’m going to guess that they’d discover that a meeting with the Minister for Finance is a meeting with a Politically Exposed Person.

I’d then be fairly certain that they would see this same meeting is covered under the Enhanced Due Diligence Regulations.

Finally, I’d hope they might realise that breaches (if discovered) of these regulations can be punished with sanctions and or fines. The fines can be of “up to €5 million in the case of natural persons, and fines of up to twice the amount of any profits gained or losses avoided”.

I’m a banker, so my sums aren’t great, but I reckon fines of up to twice the loss (as confirmed by the Comptroller & Auditor General) could amount to €440 million.

Do I think a Department of Finance that has it’s head buried in the sand is looking into this? Probably not.

Do I believe a Government that is busy trying to delegitimise even the wording of a mildly critical report into this debacle, is going to look for our money back? I’m not holding my breath.

It does make me think of the Asiatic Vespers and how fed up people were of hearing “Do as we say, don’t do as we do”. I’m fed up, too – are you?

Tony Groves is a full-time financial consultant and part-time commentator. With over 18 years experience in the financial industry and a keen interest in politics, history and “being ornery”, he has published one book and writes regularly at Trickstersworld

Rollingnews

65 thoughts on “Eagles, Vultures And Turkeys

  1. Harry Molloy

    Due Diligence, in the context of the EU Money Laundering Directives, transposed into Irish law by CJA 2010, refers to the use of information and documentation to identify the customer of a designated person (bank, fund, credit union etc). Yes, PEPs do require enhanced ‘measures’ which usually involve risk scoring and ongoing monitoring of a customer.

    I unclear what any if this has to do with the Project Eagle case or where breaches can be pointed to?

    1. Tony Groves

      Thanks Harry,
      Agree, I can’t point to actual breaches. That’s why I want the CBI to delve into Cerberus. I would be encouraged that Enhanced Due Diligence wasn’t adhered to given admissions that meetings went without minutes taken. TG

  2. JIMMYJAMES

    It appears the low class hookers in the EU bed of filth have decided they need to be paid just as much as the high class hookers to stay stung on they’re clientele list, now they are booked in for another round

  3. phil

    Well Tony I accept your bona fides right up to the point you will apply for a job that in someway may require a bit of pull. Then I suspect you will fall quickly into line….

  4. Panty Christ

    Noonan and his official also met Cerberus in April just as they were finalising the sale.

  5. bisted

    …last week I wondered how someone who is Min of Finance and a long-time shrewd politico be so removed from reality as to pose in a photo-op with a new Bon Secour private hospital…maybe not so silly after all…dottery old-codger defense now he realises he’s going out with Kenny…

  6. Brother Barnabas

    Tony, I’m sorry to be ‘that guy’ but you need to take a little more care with your writing – sentence structure all over the place, grammar from hell etc. In another post, you made reference to “Fianna Gael”.

      1. bisted

        …and you missed a golden opportunity for a cheeky semi-colon in there…back to grammar nazi boot-camp…

      2. Brother Barnabas

        I’ll take your word for it, Bodger. I confess I didn’t actually read it.

        What about –

        “fed up of Roman rules”

        “The fallout of which led to a series of wars that would last decades and pile countless more bodies on to the fire.” [as a complete sentence]

        “This week we’ve seen, for the first time in its history, the Public Accounts Committee have submitted findings supported by the majority and not unanimously.”

        And there are more.

        Genuinely, I’m not trying to be a dick. I think Tony has interesting and worthwhile points. Basic errors make it an irritating and confusing read. A 3-minute proofread would do wonders.

          1. Nigel

            I’m trolling you into polishing the grammar in this comment section till it shines!

            (Think you’re spot on, actually, these articles could always do with a bit of editing, it’s just you don’t get the chance to throw ‘asiatic vespering’ around every day..)

          1. Loan Some Cow Boy

            Hardly the first time though is it Bodger?

            To think that this guy is only concerned about a little comma out of place.

            There are far worse crimes against editing committed here every single day.

          2. Brother Barnabas

            Ah, I dunno, Frilly…adhering to the odd convention now and again can make things a bit more readable. I suspect you don’t care much for that, though.

      1. Brother Barnabas

        Sorry, Tony. I think my comment came across poorly. I actually didn’t mean it as a criticism – I found your post very interesting. Just feel you let your own (very good) ideas down with slightly clumsy expression. And I feel, too, you might lose some readers along the way as a result.

        1. Loan Some Cow Boy

          Sorry, Brother. I think my comment above came across poorly. I didn’t actually mean it as a criticism – I found your nitpicking about the placement of commas incredibly insightful. Just feel you let yourself down choosing to pick some navel fluff on an absurdly irrelevant part of the editing of this hapless home for the bewildered, rather than focusing on the really outrageous content that gets past every day e.g. leather kacks guy, clampers, memes etc.

          I feel you lost me along the way as a result.

          1. Brother Barnabas

            Now you’re making me smile (and feel quite warm towards you). I didn’t actually mention commas, though. Anyway, carry on.

          2. Cowed and bewildered

            Hey Cowboy. Stick to the tea making .Leave the editing to the Brother.
            Just feel you let yourself down choosing to pick some navel fluff on an absurdly irrelevant part of the editing of this hapless home for the bewildered. Ffs It does not make any sense.

      2. Sheik Yahbouti

        Tony, I had assumed it was, not a cigarette paper’s worth of difference between the two.

        1. Brother Barnabas

          Which of the two having an absolute majority would cause you most trauma, Sheikh?

  7. louislefronde

    I like where Tony is going with his writing. It’s important to have new voices that challenge the mainstream media (who have been too busy getting their copy on the cocktail circuit)

  8. rotide

    Tony really loves his clumsy analogies and this ones a cracker.

    Comparing a minority government to the greatest conquering army the world has ever seen?

    ok so.

      1. Bertie Blenkinsop

        Sure get a balaclava while you’re at it. :)

        Only kidding, I’d definitely get a smaller shirt though, that one makes you look like a kid playing dress up :)

          1. Brother Barnabas

            Don’t mind him, Tony.

            Once he asked me to wear tighter pants and walk on my tippy-toes. I’m sorry I even did it.

    1. Frilly Keane

      That has the looks of a lad who went inta work in a zippy, and forgot t’was Corporate photo day
      n’ borrowed a shirt n’tie from one’a the lads in Payroll

        1. Brother Barnabas

          Don’t bother, Tony. You won’t understand the answer – it’ll come out like a guttural scream.

          ‘n’yer’sayin’yewl’be’settin’nathan’online shure its d’interne bhoy

          Or words to that effect.

          1. Frilly Keane

            ‘you speaking for me now Barney?

            Anyway Goves, if you’re all that, in the Financial industry like, you’d hardly need to pass around a collection plate

            Even for a tailored shirt

          2. Brother Barnabas

            Sorry, Frilly. You did ask me, though, to post comments on your behalf whenever you weren’t around. Or at least that’s what I thought you meant.

          3. Frilly Keane

            Did I

            That’s news ta’me
            Offered up me residency to anyone who could do better alright

            But comment for me ….
            Nah

            Maybe you’re confusing your logins Barney
            Wait’ll you get in from work and you get inta your lipstick and frock
            and ya calm yerself down

  9. Cian

    Hmm: “The fines can be of “up to €5 million in the case of natural persons, and fines of up to twice the amount of any profits gained or losses avoided”.
    I’m a banker, so my sums aren’t great, but I reckon fines of up to twice the loss (as confirmed by the Comptroller & Auditor General) could amount to €440 million.”

    Two points:
    1. Your comprehension is poor too: “losses avoided” is not the same as a “loss”.
    2. ” (as confirmed by the Comptroller & Auditor General)” it wasn’t confirmed by the C&AG, it was claimed. The NTMA contested this valuation.

    1. Tony Groves

      Ha, I’m only seeing this now.
      You have proven my point: Losses and losses avoided are also not profit and thus the key issue of the CAG report.
      Thank you
      TG

  10. Fergus Sw

    Enjoyed the article and I see Noonan has his “chief brusher under the carpet man’, on hand.

    (Please don’t attack my lack of grammar capabilities !!!! )

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