The Central Bank has outlined plans for new measures aimed at strengthening the protection of customers' assets held by financial firms.

The bank last year set up a task force to review the issue following cases in Ireland and elsewhere - including those involving Custom House Capital (CHC) and MF Global in the US.

Deputy governor Matthew Elderfield said the plan being published today included tougher supervision, better rules, stronger audits, new powers and more accountability for firms' directors.

A review published by the bank today found that it was unable to intervene effectively in the case of Custom House Capital because it lacked the power to change the company's senior management or appoint an administrator.

Among the recommendations for the future is the establishment of a Pre-approved Control Function for all firms holding customer assets. This would be a director or member of senior management.

The report also urges a new approach to external audits, with an annual Client Asset Examination (CAE) which would use the firm's Client Asset Management Plan (CAMP) as a starting point.

It also recommends that the Central Bank should be given the power to apply to the High Court for the appointment of an administrator when the interests of customers are at risk.