Wednesday 16 January 2019

KBC Bank is still overcharging on 2,500 mortgages, admits CEO

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Stock image

Luke Byrne and Charlie Weston

Almost 2,500 customers of KBC Bank are still being overcharged on their mortgages, it has emerged.

Wim Verbraeken, CEO of the bank, revealed the figure at the Oireachtas Finance Committee last night as it examined the response to the tracker mortgage scandal.

Mr Verbraeken said these customers would be put on the correct rate by the end of the month, while some 500 have already received redress.

However, he was grilled by committee members about the length of time it has taken for the bank to resolve the issue.

Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty said he was a customer of the bank, though not one of those affected by the scandal.

He accused the bank of stealing money from accounts which it was not entitled to, even after it had identified 2,473 who were still on an incorrect rate.

KBC chief Wim Verbraeken
KBC chief Wim Verbraeken

Over the weekend the Irish Independent revealed how 33 properties of KBC customers were lost due to the tracker scandal, including 27 buy-to-let properties.

Mr Verbraeken told the committee six of these were family homes and the bank was still in possession of five of them.

He said these five customers would be offered back their homes on a reduced mortgage from the bank.

Meanwhile, Permanent TSB denied that putting one of its bankers on a panel that reviews tracker overcharging cases meant the bank's appeals process lacks fairness.

The bank admitted at the committee meeting that one of the three people on customer appeals panel is a bank employee.

But Fianna Fáil's Michael McGrath questioned if this meant the appeals process lack objectivity.

Read more: KBC Bank admits 33 properties were lost due to the tracker scandal

He was querying Permanent TSB boss Jeremy Masding.

Mr McGrath said: "I guess the point I am making is that the defendant does not get to be a member of the jury."

But Mr Masding denied there was any attempt to rig the panel in favour of the bank.

He said the chairman of the appeals panel has acknowledged that the bank staff member has been objective and helpful to the process.

Mr Masding said there was only one bank staffer on the panel, which meant it was not possible for the bank to dominate its decision making.

The bank told the TDs and senators that 28pc of appeals have been upheld in favour of customers who appealed to PTSB tracker appeals panel.

Almost 2,000 customers of the bank lost out on trackers as they opted for a fixed rate, then broke out early, but were not warned by the bank this would mean they would lose their tracker.

Mr Masding defended himself over claims the bank's delay in acknowledging the tracker overcharging had meant thousands of people at a large number of banks had to put their lives on home.

Mr Doherty claimed the actions of the bank in challenging decisions of the financial services ombudsman and the High Court had meant the 34,000 people across all banks have had to wait for refunds longer than they should have had to wait.

Mr Doherty said that he was not attacking Mr Masding personally, but until senior bankers face consequences for their actions on trackers it will happen again.

In angry exchanges, Mr Masding insisted he did not work at the bank when customers were denied trackers.

He defended his actions when he took over, dismissing claims he dragged out the overcharging issue by taking four customer cases to the Supreme Court.

Irish Independent

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