Legal action against banks over tracker scandal remote - financial advisor

Up to 30,000 homeowners may have been wrongly removed from tracker mortgages

 Padraic Kissane (left) following a Finance committee meeting.Photograph:  Gareth Chaney Collins

Padraic Kissane (left) following a Finance committee meeting.Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

 

The possibility that financial institutions facing legal action as a result of the tracker mortgage scandal is remote, according to the financial advisor representing many impacted homeowners.

Padraic Kissane said up to 30,000 homeowners may have been wrongly removed from tracker mortgages by Irish banks because of systemic failures

Mr Kissane has been instrumental in shining a spotlight on the issue, was speaking in the wake of comments made by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in which he called for the banks to immediately offer restitution to customers wrongfully stripped of trackers.

His estimate of 30,000 affected homeowners is substantially higher than the number already identified which currently stands at less than 20,000 but he suggested that the scale of the scandal would likely widen in the months ahead.

Speaking ahead of a Cabinet meeting in Cork on Friday morning, the Taoiseach said “any banks, whether they are partially owned by the State or not, [THAT]took people off tracker mortgages incorrectly should put that right and they should put it right and they should repay what is owed, offer an apology and also compensation.”

He told reporters he had a tracker mortgage “and in many ways it’s been a godsend, because it’s meant my mortgage has been very affordable in years gone by and I can only imagine what it would have been had it been 4 or 5 per cent or 6 per cent.”

He added that there were “many people and many families who have been driven to distraction and endured enormous mental health trauma with fears about what would happen to their family and those things should never have happened.”

Mr Varadkar was speaking after the Oireachtas Finance Committee heard evidence on Thursday from four people caught up in the scandal after Permanent TSB and Ulster Bank wrongly switched them off lower cost mortgages.

The four, accompanied by Mr Kissane, told the finance Committee how they were forced to pay tens of thousands of euros more in repayment than was necessary and they highlighted the huge stresses they endured as a result.

Mr Kissane welcomed the comments of the Taoiseach and said the fact that he had a tracker meant he was better positioned to fully understand the impact of having it taken away would have on a person’s financial well-being.

“This story has momentum now and I am hoping that will make a difference to all of the people who have been affected,” he told The Irish Times. However he expressed doubt as to whether the banks would ever face legal action for wrongfully taking people of trackers.

“My sole aim is to make sure those who were wrongfully taken off trackers are put back on them without delay. If this went the prosecution route then everything would suddenly be out of my hands and it would take forever. I’m not convinced anyone would ever be found guilty because the level of proof would be so off the charts,” he said.

“Even if there were prosecutions, I am pretty sure the banks would find fall guys but what we are really looking at here is a systemic issue.”

Mr Kissane said the next key moment will be the Central Bank presentation before the Oireachtas Committee on Finance next Thursday.

The financial advisor has been fighting on behalf of people wrongly removed from trackers for well over five years and said he was willing to share his expertise with the Central Bank and offered his services in a letter sent on Friday. “I suggested that they allow me to read the audits have been sent in by the banks implicated in the scandal.”