The Central Bank of Ireland is to introduce ‘Fitness and Probity’ checks on persons occupying senior positions in Irish Credit Unions from 1st August 2013.

This follows the passing into law of the Credit Union Act, 2012 late last year and is expected to strengthen governance in Credit Unions at Board and Manager level. The background checks are expected to focus on evidence of issues such as criminal convictions, conflicts of interest and bankruptcy.

Under the new regime, those seeking election to chair of a board or appointment as manager would be subject to “pre-approval controlled functions” (PCFs). Under the new regime, it will be an offence for a Credit Union to permit a person to perform a controlled function such as manager or chairperson without showing that they are satisfied that a person meets the standards. These standards require that a person is competent and capable, honest, ethical and acts with integrity, and financially sound.

The first phase will apply to Credit Unions with more than €10 million in assets on their balance sheet, which equates to approximately 250 of the 350 Credit Unions in Ireland. It is expected that by August 2015 all Credit Unions must comply with these regulations. The Central Bank of Ireland are planning to hold seminars during the coming months in order to fully explain the new regime.