Central Bank can 'name and shame' lenders who breach the code of conduct for mortgages
Lenders who breach mortgage codes of conduct can be "named and shamed" by the Central Bank, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said.
Fianna Fáil's Seán Ó Fearghaíl told the Dáil it was not acceptable that the Central Bank had reported that seven mortgage lenders had breached the code of conduct in dealing with people who had mortgage payment problems.
Mr Ó Fearghaíl said none of the banks which broke the rules were named, nor were the specific breaches - such as putting unfair pressure on lenders in difficulty - linked to any particular lender.
"Surely to God, it's in the interest of the consumer that this information be publicised," Mr Ó Fearghaíl said.
Mr Kenny said the issue was being handled by the Central Bank and the next move was up to them. He said he believed it would involve applying sanctions for the rule breaches in a process which would be public.
"I hope it will now do so swiftly, effectively and publicly because these are public decisions," Mr Kenny said about the Central Bank.
Mr Ó Fearghaíl said he believed people seeking mortgage loans were entitled to know about the behaviour of prospective lenders. He also said that borrowers at the receiving end of a breach were entitled to see sanctions applied.
The Kildare South TD said he was also concerned that local authorities were taking an increasingly robust stance towards borrowers in difficulty and the authorities should look at the behaviour of councils towards people to whom they lent money to buy a house.
"Who is overseeing the activities of local authorities as lenders which are forcing people out of their family homes?" Mr Ó Fearghaíl asked.
Mr Kenny said the Environment Minister would be interested in knowing about any cases of local authorities pursuing people for mortgage arrears. He said it would be important to know if these were recent or more historic cases.
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said Nama had just lost a five-year legal battle over the revelation of details of its cases. He said it was most unjust that the taxpayer would also have to bear the cost of this expensive and unsuccessful litigation.
"Nama has been shrouded in secrecy since its conception. It only became subject to the Freedom of Information Act last year," Mr Adams said.
Mr Kenny said the public spending watchdog, the Comptroller & Auditor General (C&AG) had a dedicated team based in Nama scrutinising their work.
"All Comptroller and Auditor General's reports on Nama have been subject to the full scrutiny by the Committee of Public Accounts. These reports are available on the Nama website for everyone to see," Mr Kenny replied.
Mr Adams said the Dublin County Board of the GAA had been refused in its efforts to buy the Spawell property even though it had offered the asking price of €6.5m.
He said that, by contrast, the businessman Noel Smyth and his firm, Fitzwilliam Finance Partners, had been facilitated in the purchase of various loans which allowed it to purchase Arnotts. Mr Adams said he was not implying any impropriety. But he said that given the ill-treatment of the workers at Clerys, workers at Arnotts were left to wonder if Nama transactions favoured business elites over ordinary citizens.