Thursday 30 March 2017

Central Bank governor accused of being bullied by banks he regulates as tracker row rages

Central Bank Governor Philip Lane. Photo: Gareth Chaney / Collins
Central Bank Governor Philip Lane. Photo: Gareth Chaney / Collins
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

Central Bank governor Philip Lane has been accused at an Oireachtas Committee of being bullied by banks he regulates.

TDs and senators were disappointed Prof Lane was unable to provide precise numbers for those who had tracker mortgages taken off them by their lenders.

Committee chairman John McGuinness questioned if the Central Bank was up to regulating the banks.

An industry-wide probe is being conducted into banks stripping homeowners of good value trackers.

Prof Lane responded: "I totally dispute your characterisation of what the Central Bank is doing."

At the hearing, Central Bank executive Ed Sibley suggested Bank of Ireland may have restored 5,000 customers to trackers, and not 2,100 as Bank of Ireland has stated.

Fianna Fáil's Michael McGrath suggested the total number of mortgage holders denied trackers may be 15,500.

After a break in the committee hearing, Prof Lane clarified that Bank of Ireland was stopped taking trackers from 3,000 customers by regulators.

Prof Lane said he made an error by disclosing this. The trackers were not removed after the Central Bank intervened.

And the total number who had trackers taken off them wrongly across 15 lenders is likely to be 15,000, the governor said.

Sinn Fein's Pearse Doherty accused banks of theft from their customers over the tracker denial issue.

The Central Bank has now said that 100 people lost their homes because they were denied a low-cost tracker through the actions of their lender.

This is double the previous estimate.

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