Enforcement action taken against Ulster Bank over trackers
Ulster Bank has admitted that the Central Bank is taking enforcement action against it over customers losing tracker mortgages.
This is the second bank to face an enforcement action from regulators over the issue, following the move against Permanent TSB last summer.
It is separate to a review of tracker-loss cases the Central Bank has asked all lenders to conduct.
The fact that the Central Bank is taking enforcement action may indicate that the regulators are unhappy with Ulster Bank's response to the bank-wide review.
The action is understood to involve those who took out tracker mortgages with First Active, which was taken over by Ulster Bank in 2009.
News of the enforcement was contained in a financial results presentation released to the London Stock Exchange by Ulster Bank's parent, Royal Bank of Scotland.
RBS said: "Separately, on 15 April, the CBI [Central Bank] notified UBIL [Ulster Bank] that it was also commencing an investigation under its Administrative Sanctions Procedure into suspected breaches of the Consumer Protection Code 2006 during the period 4 August 2006 to 30 June 2008 in relation to certain customers who switched from tracker mortgages to fixed rate mortgages."
The Central Bank has the power to administer sanctions for contraventions by regulated financial firms and ban managers if it finds there have been failings. Fines of up to €10m can be imposed.
Financial expert Padraic Kissane, who specialises in tracker restoration cases, estimates that 2,000 Ulster Bank customers may have lost trackers, and are now in line to have them restored and get compensation.
He said: "I would say Ulster Bank has around 2,000 cases, if you include the old First Active."
David Hall of the Irish Mortgage Holders Organisation said he had called on the Central Bank to take enforcement action against the bank.
Thousands of people who had trackers wrongly taken off them are now in line to have them restored, have overpayments refunded, and get compensation once a separate Central Bank review of all banks is finished.
The final number of families affected across all banks could be as high as 10,000.
But it will be 2017 before the industry-wide probe is completed, the Central Bank said this week.
Banks have been told by regulators to now move to the next phase of the investigation and identify any customers impacted by their failure to restore them to trackers.