Friday 23 August 2019

Permanent TSB finds no evidence it deliberately mistreated customers who lost tracker mortgages

Jeremy Masding, PTSB
Jeremy Masding, PTSB
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

PERMANENT TSB has found no evidence that it deliberately failed to properly treat its customers who lost valuable tracker mortgages.

Bank boss Jeremy Masding also has insisted to TDs and senators that there are no more customers of the bank that have yet to be refunded and compensated for loss of trackers.

Addressing members of the Oireachtas Finance Committee, Mr Masding said 1,979 accounts were eligible for redress and compensation.

The bank has finished its tracker probe, he said.

Photo: Collins
Photo: Collins

This is despite a leading authority on tracker denial cases claiming there are another 2,500 cases that the bank is refusing to concede on, or where people got redress but were put on the wrong tracker margin.

Trackers are priced at a set margin over the European Central Bank (ECB) rate, usually around 1pc above the rate.

Financial adviser Padraic Kissane has said the disputed cases will now be resolved by either the Financial Services Ombudsman or in the courts.

However, Mr Masding told the committee: “We are not aware of any cohort of customer accounts – outside those identified by us – which the Central Bank of Ireland believes should be included in our impacted population.”

He revealed that 14 customers have refused to take the offer of compensation and refunds.

These people are understood to be taking legal actions against the bank.

The Central Bank has stated a number of times in the past that taking the refunds offered does not preclude appealing the decision to the bank’s appeals panel, the financial services ombudsman or the courts.

Permanent TSB said it was not possible to contact another 19 account holders and it is believed they have left the country.

Mr Masding said he has been asked repeatedly if Permanent TSB can identify individuals who are responsible for the tracker mess.

“During the bank’s work, and in responding to the CBI [Central Bank of Ireland] tracker mortgage examination, we have found no evidence that the failure to provide this disclosure was planned or deliberate.”

He said the key issued identified by the bank was a failure to disclose fully to customers that their request to break early from a fixed rate product would result in the loss of a right to return to a tracker rate.

The bank, still more than 70pc owned by taxpayers, has cut its level of non-performing loans, helped by the controversial sale of a loan portfolio and a mortgage securitisation deal last year.

Permanent TSB, which is 75pc owned by the State, came in for strong criticism when it sold around 16,000 mortgage accounts in two controversial loan sales, Projects Glas and Glenbeigh.

Around 4,000 customers whose mortgage was sold were engaged in rescheduled payment deals.

The loans were moved out of the State-owned lender despite a practice that people in arrears who engage do not have mortgages sold.

But Mr Masding defenced the loan sales, which have reduced its proportion of non-performing loans (NPL) from 26pc to 10pc.

“At all times, we undertake these activities in good faith, doing our very best to deliver fair and certain customer outcomes as we fully appreciate the sensitive nature of NPL sales,” Mr Masding said.

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