The New York Times published an article regarding the Irish bank bailout in which it states:" The Irish bank bailout in the fall of 2008 was the first one to hit a euro zone country during the credit crisis, and it set some unfortunate precedents. Now we learn that it was based in no small part on manipulative lies by venal bankers."
While the article raises some interesting question regarding the specific case, I would rather discuss the more general case of disaster decision making process.
In the above mentioned case it would seem that there is a mix of hindsight and indignation regarding the action of the government. There were many things that were not known or were misrepresented to the government. However, that does not make the decision taken at the time wrong or even irrational. Based on the information available at the time, the way it was represented and the context of world events it would seem that the decision may have had some merit.
The second point relates to the infrastructure. In the article it states:" Regulators were clueless, or worse, about what was actually happening. There seems to have been no one in the government who was truly familiar with the bank. Outside experts were called in, but it is not easy during a crisis to evaluate something from scratch."
The fact that the government and specifically the national bank was not familiar and could not itself get the necessary information in time and clearly to be able to assess independently the real risk, its origins and recommend a course of action, is the main problem.
The EU is fond of identifying "Market Failures" – but here we have a "Governance Failure". For it would seem that there must be something wrong in the governance procedures that allow a bank to become so big, its failure would negatively impact the national economy, and yet there would be no effective control, or monitoring mechanisms in place allow the government to assess the situation. If you believe in the free market completely, and allow the market forces to play, than indeed you can claim there is no need to monitor, to control or to follow up. But then, you should not be expected to bailout the institution, but rather let the same market forces lead it to its destiny.
My claim is the following, if there is a potential danger to the public good, from a sector, or specific organizations, the government, as part of its responsibility to the public should ensure that there are procedures in place, that will allow it either to avert the danger or, (if not liberal enough) at least allow it, in times of crisis to identify the problems including their magnitude and potential impact, in order to take the right steps to protect the public. According to the article such procedures were not in place at the time (are there such procedures now in place?), and therefore the situation was skewed from the start.
The criminal aspect is not discussed here, and the real impact of what will happen now to the German support from that aspect is again not discussed here. However, while one cannot change the past, one can learn from it. I would imagine that procedures in place that would prevent such occurrence again would be more important than allocating blame.