Calls for bankers to be held to account for €1bn tracker scandal

Consumer advocates and politicians have stepped up their calls for individual bankers to be held to account for the €1bn tracker mortgage scandal, which involves around 40,000 cases.

In its latest report, the Central Bank said mortgage lenders had paid out €647m to customers by the end of the year, up €67m since August.

The regulator said 97% of affected customer accounts have received offers of redress and compensation.

“The supervisory phases of the examination are nearing completion, with the final report expected to be published in the coming months,” it said.

The final bill for the scandal, which happened when customers were wrongly moved onto more expensive loans by more than a dozen lenders, is expected to be around €1bn.

That bill will include compensation paid to wronged customers, as well as administrative costs.

The Central Bank examination began more than three years ago with an investigation of two million customer accounts.

Governor Philip Lane and staff have come under fire repeatedly at the Oireachtas Finance Committee from TDs and senators who say the Central Bank had been slow and lenient in their initial reaction to the banks involved in the scandal.

The Central Bank has said part of its “overall strategy is to take enforcement action that holds both firms and individuals accountable”.

Fianna Fáil finance spokesman Michael McGrath said there was now an urgent need for the Government to bring forward the senior executive accountability regime, similar to what exists in the UK and promised in Ireland.

“This will require legislation in the Oireachtas and Fianna Fáil will support its introduction. The Central Bank needs to step up work on its enforcement investigations relating to the tracker mortgage scandal. The regulator must establish precisely how this €1bn-plus scandal was allowed to happen in the first place and who exactly is responsible,” Mr McGrath said.

Mortgage debt relief campaigner David Hall said it was “remarkable that no banker or director of any lender was prosecuted for this scandal” considering “the scale of theft from and damage done to customers by banks and lenders”.

“This is the largest financial consumer scandal in the history of the state and banks stole from customers and then tried to deny and cover it up,” he said.

Consumer advocate Brendan Burgess of the askaboutmoney website said that “contrary to the impression given by the Central Bank, the tracker story is far from over”.

“The redress and compensation payments are not largely complete. The banks might be hoping that they are largely complete. The Central Bank might be hoping that they are largely complete. But they are not.

“There are many individuals and cohorts of customers who feel that they have not been adequately redressed.

“The tracker story will not be complete until these cases have been decided by the ombudsman or by the High Court.”

He said that some of the offers of redress and compensation made by banks were “derisory”.

AIB, Bank of Ireland, Ulster Bank, Permanent TSB and KBC Ireland set aside €1bn to cover redress and compensation costs.

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