THE SHAMING OF BANK OF IRELAND
‘Staggering’ admission: Bank accepts 10,300 caught in tracker scandal
BANK of Ireland has been forced to admit it wrongly took money from another 6,000 customers during the tracker scandal, a development described last night as ‘nothing short of staggering’.
Only two weeks ago the lender insisted it had identified only 4,300 customers who had been overcharged, and said it would ‘continue to review’ the issue.
Now it turns out the number is actually an astonishing 10,300.
The eight-year-old tracker scandal was brought into sharp focus in recent weeks when victims told harrowing stories about how banks hounded them for funds; some even lost their homes.
It will now cost Bank of Ireland up to €200million to compensate its victims,
a massive increase on the €25million it originally forecast.
Last night the Central Bank was claiming credit for Bank of Ireland’s admission, insisting it followed a ‘robust challenge’ from the regulator.
Bank of Ireland’s new group chief executive Francesca McDonagh also appeared to take credit for the change of stance, with a statement saying she had made the tracker issue ‘a top priority’ since taking over.
Yesterday, she apologised ‘unreservedly’ for the anxiety and suffering caused to those affected, but as recently as October 21 she declined to apologise following queries from the Irish Daily Mail.
Politically, the news has drawn scorn across the spectrum.
Fianna Fáil finance spokesman Michael McGrath said the homeowners who lost out are being offered ‘measly’ compensation, for which the bank has no deadline. He said: ‘The numbers keep changing, the banks are dragging their feet and there is no sense that they are close to getting to the bottom of the problem.’
He said the revelation ‘is nothing short of staggering and completely discredits the bank’s approach to the issue so far’, adding: ‘Just two weeks ago, following his meetings with the main banks, the Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe, issued an update stating that Bank of Ireland had identified 4,300 customers as being impacted by the tracker scandal and that all these would receive redress and compensation by the end of 2017.
‘Today, we are told by the bank that it has identified a further 6,000 affected customers and no deadline has been given as to when they will get their money back. Today’s statement from Bank of Ireland comes over two years on from the start of the Central Bank’s tracker probe.’
Sinn Féin finance spokesman Pearse Doherty said the news is ‘proof of the ongoing contempt the banks have for the process and for the victims’.
Bank of Ireland yesterday said the 4,300 customers previously identified will be written to in the coming weeks and given ‘a range of options’.
Those among the latest 6,000 who still have an account in the bank will be returned to their correct tracker rate ‘as soon as possible’ and the bank said it aims to compensate them, starting before the end of 2017. Among those being returned to tracker rates are approximately 1,800 of the lender’s own staff.
The bank said last night it wanted to use an approach which ‘seeks to respect our legal and contractual commitments and also ensure fair outcomes are achieved for our customers’. Ms McDonagh appeared to take credit, with a bank statement that read: ‘Since taking up the role of CEO at Bank of Ireland in October, making progress on the tracker issue has been a top priority. We have since made substantial progress in relation to the issue.’
She said: ‘Our priority is to ensure that all impacted customers are compensated as quickly as possible.’
The Central Bank, responding to the news, said it came about after a dispute over whether those homeowners should be included at all.
A spokesman said: ‘We note
‘Determined to pursue banks’
the announcement today that, following robust challenge by the Central Bank, Bank of Ireland will now include disputed groups of customers in the Tracker Examination for redress and compensation. These are groups of customers that the Central Bank had identified as having been impacted but Bank of Ireland had previously disputed.
‘The Central Bank is determined to pursue banks to include affected customers in the redress and compensation scheme.’
It come after the Central Bank was accused of having no teeth as it cannot set the level of redress and compensation in most cases as these predate 2013 laws.
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