A director of a fund management company sanctioned by the Central Bank following a “deliberate” breach of financial regulations by a delegate, retains a seat on the supervisory board of Euronext, owner of the Irish Stock Exchange (ISE).
adraic O’Connor, former managing director of NCB Stockbrokers and former chairman of ISE, is a director of Sarasin Funds Management Ireland Limited (SFMIL), which was fined € 385,000 this week and reprimanded by regulators for “Violations of investment restrictions and inadequate supervision of delegates”.
Mr O’Connor became known to the public at the Mahon court in 2007 when then taoiseach Bertie Ahern claimed the broker had given him £ 5,000 to help cover his personal costs following his separation.
Mr O’Connor denied the request and said in his own testimony that the £ 5,000 was a corporate donation from NCB to Mr Ahern’s local political organization, although he admitted the company had used a fake invoice to process payment in 1993.
Mr. O’Connor is now a director of several financial companies, including SFMIL and Euronext, the pan-European stock exchange group with markets in Amsterdam, Brussels, Dublin, Lisbon, London, Milan, Oslo and Paris, overseeing 1,900 listed companies.
His involvement in a company that has been the subject of enforcement by the Central Bank risks “reputational contagion” to his other functions, according to regulatory sources.
Euronext told the Independent Irish he was not able to say whether the group was reviewing Mr. O’Connor’s position on the board or whether the rest of the board had been made aware of the SFMIL violations.
The Central Bank of Ireland is a member of the College of Euronext Regulators, which oversees market integrity and other financial regulations on the exchanges it manages.
When asked if the Central Bank had been in contact with Euronext regarding the action against SFMIL, a spokesperson said they could not comment on the individual executions except to say that “the Bank’s investigations central are exhaustive “.
In its notice of execution, the Central Bank said that SFMIL risked the total loss of client assets in 2017 when an external investment manager it hired “deliberately violated certain investment concentration restrictions” during the merger of two funds.
The Central Bank found that SFMIL directors had not been aware of the breach for eight weeks, the designated director for compliance was on sabbatical leave without replacement.
During the period in question, the directors signed quarterly reports from the investment manager which he had not in fact received.
Mr. O’Connor was appointed to Euronext’s board of directors, where he sits on the governance committee, in 2018 and is expected to renew his four-year term in 2022.
The Euronext supervisory board may propose at its annual general meeting to suspend or dismiss members of the board, which requires an absolute majority of the votes cast.
Mr. O’Connor has been a director of SFMIL, the offshore fund management arm of wealth manager Sarasin and Partners, since 2013.
He was appointed chairman of state-owned ACC bank by Mr. Ahern’s finance minister Charlie McCreevy in 1999 and oversaw its sale to Rabobank, which then owned Sarasin.