Last Updated: Wednesday, April 1, 2009, 00:01

Locle company to track senior bank officials and developers

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AMY DAWN

The Government has contracted the services of a location-based software company to deliver 24-hour tracking of senior bank officials, recently-resigned bank directors and high-profile debtors -- predominantly property developers.

The Department of Finance announced late yesterday afternoon that there was increasing risk of flight by certain developers and bankers. Action needed to be taken quickly to ensure that the Financial Regulator was able to maintain continuous observation of their activities.

The tracking system, called Locle (pronounced "local"), is similar to the National Offender Management Information System (C-Nomis) in the United Kingdom, but without the stigma of electronic ankle cuffs, as recently used on financial fraudster Bernard Madoff.

Locle's "friend-finder" technology requires that participants run a small piece of software on their mobile phone, which identifies their location by cell mast triangulation. Normally the Locle service is used for sharing of location with friends in social networks. However, under instruction from the Central Bank, the whereabouts of senior bank management will be made available publicly on Locle.com and Twitter with hashtag "#bankers".

In a joint statement the Finance Minister explained that the tax-paying electorate is frustrated at continued revelations of impropriety in the banking sector. It is only reasonable that the public, who are footing the bill for the banking bailout, should be able to monitor the movements of their new employees and debtors.

The Government had requested that the tracking system be self-financing and suggested that members of the public be able to pay to trigger small electric discharges on the mobile phones being tracked. However the Communications Regulator indicated that the so-called "Mobile Credit Shock" technology was not scheduled for introduction until after the 4G mobile license auctions.

Representatives of the Human Rights Commission stated that the move was draconian. The Finance Minister insists that although the new measures could be considered cruel and unusual, they are necessary to reel in rogue bankers and reinstate confidence in the markets.

Locle is not the first Irish mobile software company to secure significant business from the Republic of Singapore. However, it is the first today.

Reuters Singapore

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