Friday 24 November 2017

A worrying shift for borrowers

Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

Basing most of Ulster Bank's new mortgage arrears team in Scotland has to be a concern for anyone with a vested interest in the Irish banking situation -- customers, regulators and the Government.

The shift to Edinburgh is more worrying evidence that the country's third-biggest lender is being hollowed out from the inside.

Ulster Bank's parent has been forced to sink €13bn into the bank here to cope with losses over the last four years, as bad as any of our own basket-case banks.

It's looking at making the operations in the Republic an offshoot of Belfast in a bid to cut the cost of keeping the business afloat.

Dubbed 'Operation Emerald', the move would make it easier for Ulster Bank to borrow cheaply from its UK-based parent.

If it happens, the Irish regulators will lose even more control of the bank, and there must be a concern about that.

The regulator let down Ulster Bank customers before, over the IT mess. It will have to do better this time.

Mortgage arrears are the most sensitive work done by any bank -- dealing with people who are by definition in danger of losing their home.

It makes it absolutely imperative they don't suffer their own version of the 'IT glitch' that for whatever reason cuts customers off from their lender when they are at their most financially vulnerable.

Irish Independent

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