Fianna Fáil Senator Thomas Byrne has called for tougher fines for financial institutions that repeatedly mistreat customers and mishandle complaints.
Senator Byrne said the latest report from the Financial Services Ombudsman provides more damming evidence of an unacceptable culture within the banking system and a total unwillingness to change.
“It is clear from this report that the banks have learned absolutely nothing and have no interest in pursuing the kind of reform that the system so desperately needs,” said Senator Byrne.
“While the banks refuse to play ball, the government continues to sit on its hands instead of tackling the issue head on. The result is that the mortgage arrears crisis worsens every single day, customers fall deeper into unmanageable debt and there appears to be no real help in sight.
“Most worryingly, this report shows the same complaints being upheld over and over again and still the financial institutions show no willingness to change their behaviour. These institutions clearly do not have processes in place to learn from previous rulings and ensure that the same problems do not continue to occur.
“This level of repeat offences simply cannot be tolerated. In addition to the new system of ‘naming and shaming’ the offenders, initially proposed by Fianna Fáil 18 months ago, we need much higher fines for penalties for repeat offenders. I also believe that just as banks have targets on mortgage resolutions, there must also be targets for dealing with customer complaints within a reasonable length of time and by staff with the necessary training.
“The Ministerial Order to allow the Financial Services Ombudsman to name and shame offending institutions has not yet been signed by the Minister for Finance. I am calling on the Minister to sign this immediately. The banks are showing absolutely no intention of reforming on their own and it is about time we saw some real action behind all the government’s rhetoric.”