On 27 January 2016, the Committee of Inquiry into the Banking Crisis published its report which made a range of findings and recommendations in relation to the factors and policies which impacted on or contributed to the recent banking crisis in Ireland. One of the most high profile findings was that the Financial Regulator had sufficient powers to more proactively intervene in relation to banking risks but did not do so.
In relation to banking, the inquiry found that banks became over-reliant on wholesale markets during the period leading up the financial crisis and that increased competition in the property lending market led to aggressive lending policies and risky asset value based lending models. It was, acknowledged that no one single event or decision led to the failure of banks in Ireland but that exposures from poor commercial property lending threatened the financial system.
The Inquiry recommended that the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission conduct a review of the impact of these lending policies by banks on consumers. The report also included a number of recommendations directed at banks, in relation to their structure, e.g., that all board members should undergo ongoing training, that banks should ensure that the risk function is an independent and senior position with direct access to the Board and that risk appetite should be clearly defined at board level.
The Report made further general recommendations, including requiring a mandatory rotation of audit firms, requiring financial institutions to obtain independent audits of regulatory returns and the introduction of a comprehensive commercial property price register.