Thursday 21 September 2017

Ulster Bank faces €60m compensation bill

Charlie Weston Personal Finance Editor

Ulster Bank is likely to have to shell out in excess of €60m to compensate customers for the mess surrounding the collapse of its IT systems.

Some 600,000 people have been hit by the computer crash. The bank is planning to refund all fees and charges imposed as a result of the IT breakdown as well as compensating people for the inconvenience.

Bank boss Jim Brown would not say yesterday how much money Ulster was setting aside or if all of those impacted will get a payment.

But banking experts said that if each person affected only gets €100 it will cost at least €60m.

Negotiations

The bank admitted it was in negotiations with the Central Bank on how the compensation deal will work.

It is understood Central Bank executives are pushing for a large pot of money to be put aside to compensate Ulster Bank customers and those of other banks for the mess.

Mr Brown denied the argument with regulators was coming down to the size of the compensation fund. He would only say his bank expects to pay out "tens of million" of euro in compensation.

The Ulster Bank chief executive said the bank will produce details "shortly".

He claimed yesterday its systems were back to normal, although he admitted that it could take weeks to fully update all transactions.

However, there was evidence yesterday that people who had been unaffected by the IT meltdown up to now were having problems.

A number of bank customers contacted this newspaper to say they had no problems over the last month of the payments upheaval, but were now seeing their salary paid on the double, and direct debts being taken out twice.

The bank insisted yesterday that all fees and charges incurred as a result of the problems will be fully refunded.

The bank has also confirmed that any irregular account charges of €4.44 and unpaid outward charges of €12.70 that were applied to customer accounts during systems breakdown will be reversed.

Any fees and interest incurred during the incident will either not be applied to customer accounts or will be applied and then reversed.

The bank is also in talks with credit reference agencies to ensure that no customer's credit rating is affected.

A spokeswoman for Ulster said: "All of our systems are running as normal in the timeframes we would expect and normal service has now been restored for the majority of our customers."

Mr Brown said that he was considering moving the regulation of the bank to the UK because the operations in the Republic and in the North had now been set up as one legal entity.

In the past Ulster Bank had two separate legal set ups.

Irish Independent

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