Opinion: a wide network of forces works against encouraging disclosures about unethical practices in the sector
Ten years on from the financial crisis, the Irish Banking Culture Board has emerged. It aims to address “an unprecedented loss of public trust” in Ireland’s banks and will do so by fostering a sustainable, professional and ethical banking culture. Will this work? Or do the problems in finance simply go too deep?
From researching whistleblowing in this sector, I am not optimistic. An ethical organisational culture encourages disclosures of problems from within, and then ensures they are acted upon. I interviewed people who spoke up in a variety of banks in the UK, US and Ireland prior to the 2008 crisis. I spoke with regulators, trade unionists, lawyers and support groups. Whistleblowers had disclosed mortgage fraud, money-laundering and unethical lending practices. They had mainly been ignored.
Together, their accounts paint a picture of financial services as a chilly environment that discouraged speaking out about wrongdoing. The problem is that this doesn’t seem to have changed much today. The basic features of financial services, its central position in our society, and its lack of transparency, remain in place. The upshot is the same in 2019 as it was in 2007: people prefer to stay silent.
From RTÉ Radio 1’s Morning Ireland, Mary Regan reports in how the Oireachtas Finance Committee were told of serious problems in Irish banking…