There were 16 enforcement settlements concluded by the Central Bank of Ireland (the "CBI") in 2013, with monetary sanctions of approximately €6.35 million, a figure that is inclusive of the €5 million fine that was imposed on Quinn Insurance Limited (under administration) in February 2013 but waived in light of the fact that any fine would have to be paid by the Insurance Compensation Fund. When this €5 million fine is removed from the 2013 total, the remaining level of fines imposed in 2013 of €1.35 million appears low by comparison with 2012, when the CBI entered into 16 settlements and imposed fines totalling almost €8.5 million.

As was the case in 2012, all of the administrative sanction settlements entered into during 2013 related to one or more of the priority enforcement areas highlighted at the outset of the year. The CBI has indicated that the majority of matters subject to the ASP arise from thematic reviews conducted by the CBI, but that there is an increasing amount of self-reporting by regulated entities. Broadly, the settlements related to the enforcement priority areas of retail intermediaries, prudential requirements, anti-money laundering, client asset requirements, errors and overcharging and consumer protection. A clear example of this was seen in November 2013, when the CBI published six separate settlements with penalties ranging from €520 to €1,000 against insurance intermediaries who had failed to hold “satisfactory professional indemnity insurance”.

This publication of a series of settlement agreements all relating to a single priority area reflects the importance of thematic reviews to the CBI’s enforcement strategy. The enforcement priorities for 2014 were published on 25 February 2014 and include, for the first time, governance of credit unions and fitness and probity obligations. We will watch with interest the impact on enforcement activity in 2014 arising from the appointment of a new Governor, Cyril Roux, formerly of the French Central Bank, and a new Director of Enforcement, Derville Rowland.