Banks face €350m fines, new Central Bank chief in spotlight and house prices outpace incomes again

Business Today: the best news, analysis and comment from The Irish Times business desk

Permanent TSB on Thursday became the first lender to be fined by the Central Bank over the tracker mortgage scandal. Photograph: Alan Betson

Permanent TSB on Thursday became the first lender to be fined by the Central Bank over the tracker mortgage scandal. Photograph: Alan Betson


Banks in the Republic face fines of up to ¤350 million for the tracker-mortgage scandal on the basis of the first case to be settled by the Central Bank with Permanent TSB, according to industry sources. Joe Brennan and Mark Paul report on the debacle, which yesterday saw PTSB fined €21 million.

Meanwhile, Jack Horgan-Jones brings news that the Minister for Finance will this week receive advice from the Central Bank on the potential removal of the €500,000 pay cap on bankers’ pay.

Still with the Central Bank, pressure was mounting on Thursday on the incoming governor, Gabriel Makhlouf, who has run into a spot of controversy in his current role at the New Zealand Treasury. Kate MacNamara reports from Wellington.

Dublin house prices rose at almost nine times the rate that workers’ income grew over the last six years, Moody’s analysts say in a new report. The study finds that while Dublin property prices rose by almost 90 per cent between 2012 and 2018, disposable income only grew by 10 per cent. Barry O’Halloran has the details.

Barry also reports on Nama’s plans to seek partners to build thousands of new homes on one of the State’s biggest development sites, at Poolbeg West in Dublin.

As the Central Bank’s inquiry into Quinn Insurance continues, Joe Brennan takes a look back at the proceedings so far, remarking that if you’re looking to find out how the company collapsed almost a decade ago and who was responsible, you’re unlikely to have found the answers this week.

Joe also brings this week’s Business Interview with John Hourican, the Irish banker hired by the Bank of Cyprus in 2013 to help stabilise a lender at the epicentre of the country’s financial crisis. Mr Hourican, who is soon to depart the role, says there was a time where everybody in Cyprus was a developer: “The butcher had three flats and the farmer was taking off a corner of the farm and turning it into apartments and a hotel.”

Hopping to another sunny island, our Wild Goose is Mark O’Dwyer from Dunboyne in Meath, who has opened a bar in Malta and takes more than a passing interest in cryptocurrencies.

John FitzGerald this week considers the benefits of EU membership to the Republic and in particular to farmers. He says paying a little extra into the EU budget every year might be a small price to pay to protect our strategic interests.

And finally, nobody says you have to love your job, but what should you do if you feel it’s utterly unfulfilling? Olive Keogh has some advice.

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