Banks still involved in ‘thuggish behaviour’ over tracker mortgage redress

Bill to be introduced to make it a crime for bankers to lie to Central Bank

Pearse Doherty:  Sinn Féin’s finance spokesman said the banks were still fighting “tooth and nail” against tracker mortgage holders despite their comments to the Oireachtas Finance Committee and letters of apology. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Pearse Doherty: Sinn Féin’s finance spokesman said the banks were still fighting “tooth and nail” against tracker mortgage holders despite their comments to the Oireachtas Finance Committee and letters of apology. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

 

Legislation to make it a crime for bankers to lie to the Central Bank will be introduced in the Dáil next week amid claims that banks are still continuing “with their thuggish behaviour” over the tracker mortgage crisis.

Sinn Féin finance spokesman Pearse Doherty said the banks were still fighting “tooth and nail” against tracker mortgage holders despite their comments to the Oireachtas Finance Committee and letters of apology.

Mr Doherty highlighted the case of a man on a tracker mortgage with a State-owned bank, who lost his home and was left with no option but to take the case to court to get his proper compensation and redress.

“He said that despite what the bankers are telling the committee, the bank is fighting him tooth and nail” to prevent him getting that redress and compensation.

Mr Doherty accused the Government of refusing “to hold white-collar criminals to account” when “lives have been destroyed, families have been broken up, people have suffered seriously including mental health issues”.

‘Systems error’

He said they were being asked to believe that just as tracker mortgages got cheaper 11 lenders “all suffered a systems error or lack or communication” and just happened to benefit by hundreds of millions of euro while their customers lost out.

But Tánaiste Simon Coveney told the Dáil “the Government is taking this very seriously”.

Mr Coveney said the Minister for Finance had made it clear, “If we have to introduce new legislation in this area then we will do that, but that will be based on the Central Bank’s report and recommendations on how we should take this forward from a legislative point of view.”

The Tánaiste said some 33,700 customers were affected by tracker mortgage failings and just over €316 million has been paid in redress. The Central Bank is pursuing four enforcement investigations.

He said almost 2,500 KBC customers remained on the wrong rate and Permanent TSB said that a total of 1,979 customers had been affected.

‘Held to account’

Mr Doherty said “not a single banker will be held to account” and “today as we speak KBC and Ulster Bank are still telling us brazenly that they have thousands of customers on the wrong rate. Bank of Ireland is fighting its own employees because it put them on the wrong rate.”

He added that thinking about legislation was not good enough when “bankers stole up to €1 billion from 33,000 families – they took their homes off them. They crippled them emotionally, financially. They broke families up. They sent people to the edge and you tell me if we need to introduce legislation...”

But the Tánaiste said “this process is not over”. The primary focus was to ensure people got their money and adequate compensation and then the Central Bank will update on how to ensure the banks follow through on commitments they have been forced to make.