Thursday, 22 June 1995
Seanad Éireann Debate
Mr. Mooney: I do no want to hold matters up. Is the Minister satisfied that, under section 79, the penalties provided for offences created by the Bill are sufficient in a world in which vast sums of money, as has been mentioned here, are circulating and can be lost? Under section 79 a person guilty of an offence shall, on summary conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding £1,000. I am sure that this matter has been well thought out and I do not wish to obstruct the passage of the Bill — I am raising it out of curiosity. It seems a paltry sum in the context of a conviction being made under this Bill which might involve substantial sums of money.
Minister of State at the Department of Finance (Mr. Coveney): The maximum penalties under the Bill are ten years imprisonment or £1,000,000 or both. That seems to send out a fairly tough message, though traditionally, over a period of time, sums of money can become less relevant. If we ran into a period of high inflation in the future and had to update that, we would do so. We want those fines to be a serious deterrent and I think they are.
Minister of State at the Department of Finance (Mr. Coveney): I thank the Senators for their contributions on this complex Bill and for their support, both on Second Stage and subsequent Stages. The Oireachtas has dealt with a large volume of legislation on the financial sector in the past five or six years. I cannot promise Senators that this will end. I hope it will end for a little while because I have been immersed in it since I came into the Department of Finance. It has been intense over the last three or four weeks. I have already mentioned that further legislation will shortly be necessary, arising out of the EU investor compensation directive,  which is really the completion of this package.
The financial system is changing quickly and legislation needs to keep up with the pace of change, so this Bill is obviously not the last word on investment related legislation. However, this is the first comprehensive Bill to ensure the proper regulation of investment intermediaries. Taken together with the recently passed Stock Exchange Bill, 1994, this Bill will establish a modern system of regulation for investment intermediaries in line with modern international practice and the requirements of European law. The Investment Intermediaries Bill, 1995, is part of a wider process under which firms providing financial services will be allowed to trade freely throughout the European Union. This will obviously bring challenges as well as opportunities, but I am sure that the Irish financial sector is strong enough to meet these challenges and avail of the opportunities here and abroad.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Central Bank, the Department of Enterprise and Employment and the Department of Justice for their assistance in the framing of this legislation. I also thank the bodies within the industry who co-operated and provided valuable assistance in the drafting of this complex legislation. Finally, I thank very much the officials in the Department of Finance who have done trojan work over a long period in producing this complex legislation and in getting me, who was entirely new to it and to this Department, up to relative speed in a short space of time. I greatly appreciate that and the co-operation of this House.
Mr. Mooney: I echo what the Minister said about the officials in his Department. It is highly technical and complex legislation and due credit should be given to them. I also thank the Minister for his natural courtesy and the speedy efficiency with which he has transmitted this Bill through the House this afternoon. My group were happy to facilitate the speedy passage of this legislation and wish it well.
Mr. Burke: I would like to be associated with the comments. I thank the Minister for coming into the House and dealing with the Bill efficiently and effectively. He has a great knowledge of the Bill, which, while it may be a continuation of the Stock Exchange Bill, is brand new and has 80 sections. He is to be complimented on getting to know the Bill in a short space of time. As he pointed out, that can be attributed to the very efficient staff in his Department. They are to be complimented because it is a very complex Bill.
Mr. Calnan: I also compliment the Minister on getting this Bill through the House. It is a complex and long Bill. I compliment the officials on the preparation of this complex, detailed document. We need detail when dealing with something as precious as investments for people.
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