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Saturday 21 September 2019

Ombudsman under fire for failing to name wrongdoers

THE failure of the Financial Services Ombudsman to name and shame firms he has found against has prompted a number of readers to complain about Ombudsman Joe Meade.

The readers were responding to a report released by Mr Meade recently which outlined the results of a number of cases he dealt with between July and December last year.

The cases included a ?40,000 compensation award against a stockbroker and a ?140,000 settlement which followed an error by an insurance broker. The ombudsman received 3,800 complaints last year, up 14pc on 2005.

None of the institutions found to have treated consumers unfairly were named, a move which has angered readers.

Joe Saville, from Laois, said the ombudsman "needs to stand up to financial institutions and name them, rather than allowing them off the hook with anonymous case studies".

"Why should financial institutions guilty of wrongdoing remain anonymous? Mr Meade has a powerful position and he could easily name and shame wrongdoers. That he chooses not to, for whatever reason, is unfair to consumers."

Another reader, Joan McManus, from Cork, said Mr Meade has a responsibility to change the culture in Ireland which has always put the interests of producers/financial institutions ahead of consumers.

"Consumers have been getting a raw deal in this country for as long as it has been an independent state. People like the ombudsman and the Financial Regulator are in a position to do something about it but are flunking it."

Contacted by this newspaper, a spokeswoman for Mr Meade said the Ombudsman must, under legislation, ensure that investigations are conducted in private.

"He has concerns about naming institutions alone as complainants may also have to be named in line with natural justice. This could deter complainants from coming forward with legitimate complaints.

"His over-riding concern as ombudsman is to ensure that the integrity of the Financial Services Ombudsman scheme is manifest to everyone, be it a complainant, a financial service provider, the Financial Regulator, the international financial community, the media, the general public or our legislators."

* Have Your Say by emailing cweston@independent.ie. Views expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the opinion of the Irish Independent.

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