Sunday 22 July 2018

People whose bank will not give them back a tracker told to go to court by Central Bank

Education Minister, Richard Bruton said banks which fail to deal with the tracker mortgage scandal must be “ruthlessly pursued’’

Central Bank Governor Philip Lane Picture: Jason Clarke
Central Bank Governor Philip Lane Picture: Jason Clarke

Charlie Weston and John Downing

The Central Bank was accused of a dereliction of its duty in failing to use its powers to force banks to give back trackers to those who lost them.

Governor Philip Lane told an Oireachtas Committee it was asking banks to write to people they refuse to give trackers back to, to tell them they can go to courts or ombudsman.

The governor revealed there are large numbers of mortgage holders that the Central Bank feels should have tracker mortgage retuned.

The banks are disputing these cases.

But Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty accused the Central Bank of a dereliction of its duty by telling people refused tracker refunds to go to ombudsman, or the courts.

He asked why the regulator will not use the 2013 powers it was given to ensure these people are redressed as they are being overcharged now.

Prof Lane said that would be a lengthy legal process, and the focus now is on getting the banks to do restore and refund people voluntarily.

And the head of financial conduct at the Central Bank Derville Rowland revealed that she has been informing the gardaí about its examination of the taking off trackers from consumers at 15 lenders.

No formal report of fraud has been made to the Garda Síochána, but there have been meetings and information has been shared.

Ms Rowland advised anyone who believes they have been affected by the tracker scandal , but who have not been contacted, to complain to their bank.

Education Minister, Richard Bruton said banks which fail to deal with the tracker mortgage scandal must be “ruthlessly pursued’’.

“We have no truck with the sort of behaviour that has seen people brought to the state of frustration and dismay,’’ Minister Bruton told the Dáil.

Replying to questions for the Government Mr Bruton said Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, already made it clear that any extra powers needed by the Central Bank would be provided. He added the Government would not be afraid to take any other measures, including pushing up the bank levy.

Fianna Fail’s public expenditure spokesman, Dara Calleary, said the banks had “slithered and slided away’’ from their legal, financial and moral responsibilities.

The Mayo TD asked why the Central Bank had been “so soft’’ with the banks, particularly those which were State-owned.

Mr Calleary said everybody agreed the way the banks had treated those with tracker mortgages was abominable to say the least.

He said the Government’s last minute attempts to threaten banks with a “fix it or face a levy’’ approach would allow them and the Central Bank to get away with without anybody held accountable.

“This scandal has happened on a continual basis over a large number of years,’’ he added.

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