29 March 2016
An award-winning business crime lawyer has expressed concern that new legislation to prevent banking recklessness will do little to solve the problem.
Section 36 of the Financial Services (Banking Reform) Act 2013, which came into force this month, is an attempt to ensure responsible behaviour by those at the top of financial institutions.
It creates a new criminal offence aimed at those performing a "senior management function" who bring down a financial institution and carries sentences of up to seven years imprisonment.
But Aziz Rahman, of Rahman Ravelli Solicitors, believes that Section 36 is unlikely to lead to many, if any, prosecutions because "its bark is worse than its bite".
A successful prosecution under Section 36 requires proof that a senior manager's conduct caused the failure of a financial institution.
But Halifax-based Mr Rahman, whose firm is the only top-ranking fraud practice in Yorkshire, believes the new legislation makes prosecutions almost impossible.
He said: "For a successful prosecution, there will have to be proof that one person’s conduct brought about the collapse of a financial institution.
"To show that one person’s act caused the problems raises questions of evidence. Decision making at financial institutions can be a lengthy, complex process, involving many people over a significant amount of time. There are also external factors that affect the performance of institutions.
"Isolating one person's conduct and finding the proof of it is difficult enough. To also have to prove that this conduct caused the collapse of an institution makes it even more unrealistic to expect any convictions under Section 36.
"There has been a loud call for restrictions on the behaviour of the major financial institutions but this legislation has a bark far worse than its bite."