The escalating tracker mortgage scandal now requires a forceful response from the Central Bank which prioritises the interests of consumers, according to Fianna Fáil Finance Spokesperson Michael McGrath.
Deputy McGrath was commenting following the latest revelation that Bank of Ireland has identified a further 602 mortgage customers wrongly denied a tracker rate and 3,916 tracker customers who were overcharged. Several other banks have already confirmed they wrongly denied thousands of customers a tracker mortgage.
Deputy McGrath stated, “It has become increasingly clear that the practice of denying mortgage customers their contractual right to a tracker interest rate was systemic and widespread across the banking industry. This practice has changed the lives of thousands of families for the worse and has inflicted on some families the devastation of losing their home.
“While the full picture is still only emerging, it is now distinctly possible that well north of 10,000 mortgage holders were wrongly denied a tracker mortgage rate with thousands of others being overcharged on their tracker rate. It is not credible to argue that this was anything other than a wilful abuse of the contractual rights of customers by the main lenders in Ireland. The Central Bank – given its consumer watchdog role – has to lay down a firm marker for once and for all. In my view, the Central Bank needs to deliver a watershed response that changes the dynamic of the Bank – customer relationship in this country.
“The Central Bank has to send a powerful signal that the abuse of customers in this way will simply not be tolerated and will be met with punitive regulatory sanctions. The Central Bank can equally not ignore the question of who knew what about this practice across the banking system and this has to part of the probe. Compensating customers and restoring tracker rates is the most urgent issue but we need to know how this practice developed in the first place, what was known at board and senior executive level and who made the key decisions.
“The Governor of the Central Bank Philip Lane will appear before the Oireachtas Finance Committee next Tuesday and I look forward to questioning him on these vital issues.”