Fergus O’Rourke has an interesting, although long-winded, series of five(and counting) articles on his excellent blog “Why they should not be arrested” As I agree with his general point, I have encouraged him to write a shorter snappier piece and publish it to counter the general view that “someone should go to jail for the mess that we are in”. He suggested that I publish it myself, so here goes… These are my views and not intended to be a summary of his. A good example of an informed commentator making the call to jail the bankers was in last week’s Sunday Business Post. Dr Joe McGrath of NUI Galway had an excellent article Making the punishment fit the corporate crime is the top priority He sets out the criteria used by judges for imposing prison sentences and questions whether these are appropriate for white collar crime. But he finishes his article with the following There is simply no evidence whatsoever of crimes having contributed to the banking crisis in Ireland. People are prosecuted for crimes – drunken driving, assault, rape, robbery, fraud, tax evasion, pushing drugs etc. Where the judge deems it serious enough, they are sent to jail. Errors of judgment, greed, stupidity, arrogance and incompetence are not crimes. Carelessness and recklessness are not usually crimes unless specifically deemed as such by legislation e.g. reckless driving causing death. Breaches of the Companies Act or the Central Bank regulations usually result in fines and disqualifications, but rarely jail sentences. It was greed, stupidity, arrogance, incompetence and recklessness which caused the banking crisis. It wasn’t fraud or dishonesty. Bankers the world over got caught up in reckless lending. There were only a few exceptions. Consumers the world over borrowed recklessly. There were many exceptions. Regulators the world over failed to regulate them properly. There were only a few exceptions. Politicians the world over failed to intervene. There were only a few exceptions. The Irish people are paying a heavy price for the collapse of the banking system. But this is due to the greed, stupidity, incompetence and recklessness of many people. I have seen no evidence that fraud or dishonesty paid any significant part in it. It’s possible that some of our top bankers have been involved in fraud or theft. It has been alleged that some loans were made non-recourse when it was known that the banks were in trouble. Some other allegations have been made and are the subject of Garda investigations. But these were not the cause of the banking failure. If bankers or anyone else were involved in fraud, they should be prosecuted. If the fraud was serious, then the judge will decide whether a jail sentence is warranted. Take Michael Fingleton for example. Some years ago, I put down a motion of no confidence in him as Chief Executive of the Irish Nationwide. I did not consider him a fit person to run a financial institution. With the additional information we have now, I think he can be fairly described as greedy, stupid, incompetent and reckless. However, his board and the Financial Regulator knew what he was doing and didn’t stop him. But I have seen absolutely no evidence that he has committed a crime – small or large. The Anglo lending spree was fully supported by its board. The Financial Regulator was fully aware of it. It was stupid, incompetent and reckless, but it was not criminal. Seán Fitzpatrick borrowed money from Anglo. This was foolish but not illegal. Hiding the loans by warehousing them in the Irish Nationwide was wrong. I don’t know enough about the circumstances to know if he broke any law. Even if he did, it certainly was not the cause of the collapse of Anglo. The Irish people have suffered due to the banking collapse. This does not justify criminalising the bankers or the politicians.