Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Finance Michael McGrath has described the outcome of the Central Bank’s enforcement investigation into Permanent TSB as indicative of a shocking culture in Irish banks in which the interests of customers ranks very low in their priorities.
Deputy McGrath commented: “The actions of PTSB were appalling in this case. They essentially adopted a steamroller approach in which they used every possible tactic right up to taking the case to the Supreme Court in order to deny customers the rights to which they were entitled.
“There was a real risk in this case that had six years elapsed from the date the overcharging began to the point at which a customer became aware of it, that they could have been left without the option of taking a case to the Financial Services Ombudsman. In the interests of full disclosure PTSB should state if this was a deliberate strategy on their part.
“It is absolutely shocking that up to 61 customers who were impacted by being charged the incorrect interest rate lost their properties. In 22 of these cases the overcharging appears to have the decisive factor in people losing their homes.
“What cannot be quantified in all of this is the huge burden in terms of emotional stress that families were put through. Now that PTSB have put their hands up and admitted their failures they must ensure that all of those who lost out are compensated quickly so that they finally put the issue behind them.
“We also need to learn some wider lessons here. There has a consistent pattern amongst Irish financial institutions of failing to admit their mistakes in dealing with customers until they are faced with overwhelming evidence to the contrary. There is a need for a clear cultural shift in which banks are far more open in how they deal with customers. This needs to be backed up by strong legislative sanction where a bank fails to comply. As a matter of urgency the six year rule needs to be amended so that financial institutions cannot continue to be allowed to hide behind it,” concluded Deputy McGrath.