A new crime is set to be established in Ireland if the Oireachtas pass a bill that Senator and Chairman of the Green Party, Dan Boyle, is planning to introduce. This bill would establish the crime of “financial treason”.
He said in a press release (taken from Corkpolitics.ie)
“Among the many reasons why there has been no action taken against known individuals working in Irish financial institutions whose greed and recklessness have brought us to where we are is that properly defined legislation seems to be lacking in defining this kind of white collar crime and fraud.
“I believe that there should be an offence of financial treason, carrying a mandatory sentence and huge fines, that would be applicable to defined individuals working in financial institutions licensed by the Irish State.
“There would be convictions on foot of any decision made knowingly by such individuals that result in reputational damage for the country, an unacceptable economic cost, or a loss of economic sovereignty.
“While much public anger has a political focus, and much of this is justified, the inability to bring to justice those whose self-interest and greed so undermined our national wellbeing, is something that must end, and end soon,”
This is all well and good and of course is populism at the highest order. If this was to be implemented, it wouldn’t change anything. No trials would take place, no fines given and certainly no one jailed.
Because this law cannot be retrospective. You cannot be tried for something that was not a crime when you committed it. Any trial that did take place would fall, as the “mens rea”, or the criminal intent, would not exist.
Despite this, I do hope this bill passes as it will allow us to hold bankers and others responsible for their actions. Unfortunately there is nothing we can do about the past, unless they have broken existing law.