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Saturday 18 November 2017

Angry mortgage holders who lost tracker rates contact Garda fraud squad

Gerry Mallon, chief executive of Ulster Bank, talks to the media outside the Department of Finance after his meeting with Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe yesterday. Photo: Tony Gavin
Gerry Mallon, chief executive of Ulster Bank, talks to the media outside the Department of Finance after his meeting with Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe yesterday. Photo: Tony Gavin
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

Furious mortgage holders who lost valuable tracker rates due to the actions of the banks have been contacting the Garda fraud squad in a bid to have the lenders investigated.

The complaints were prompted after Central Bank regulators told an Oireachtas committee last week it had been in contact with gardaí about the tracker scam.

However, the Central Bank stopped short of saying a criminal probe was under way.

It is understood this prompted a number of homeowners who lost trackers to complain they were fraudulently deprived of an ultra low-cost tracker.

Bernard Byrne, chief executive of AIB, after meeting the Finance Minister yesterday. Photo: Tony Gavin
Bernard Byrne, chief executive of AIB, after meeting the Finance Minister yesterday. Photo: Tony Gavin

A spokeswoman for the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau said: "An Garda Síochána can confirm that it has received enquiries in relation to the subject of tracker mortgages from private individuals."

She added that an allegation of fraudulent activity in relation to tracker mortgages has not been reported to the bureau, but it remains available to advise on any local complaint.

"Complaints of this nature reported to An Garda Síochána would be assessed for criminality and a formal investigation would only commence where the assessment process identified credible allegations of criminality."

However, gardaí are understood to be unlikely to launch a fraud investigation into the banks unless there is clear evidence of criminal wrongdoing presented to them by the likes of the Central Bank.

The Central Bank has indicated that is has not found evidence of a crime, prompting accusations it raised the spectre of Garda involvement in the tracker scandal to deflect attention from itself.

The latest development came as the Department of Finance has been advised to encourage the Central Bank to force bankers out of office where they are holding out on returning valuable trackers.

Financial adviser Padraic Kissane urged the use of the Central Bank's fitness and probity rules to force bankers to step down unless they take the issue seriously.

The bosses of banks where the State has a stake - AIB, Bank of Ireland and Permanent TSB - could also come under pressure if the Government decides to use its shareholdings in the banks to vote down the re-election of the chief executives on to the boards of the banks.

Both AIB and Ulster Bank apologised for their role in the tracker scandal after meeting Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe yesterday.

On Monday, Permanent TSB boss Jeremy Masding also apologised.

But there were no apologies from Bank of Ireland's Francesca McDonagh and KBC chief Wim Verbraeken.

Irish Independent

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