Who will take responsibility for Tracker Mortgage Scandal?

17 July 2019

After years of investigations and a long campaign by thousands of mortgage holders, the Central Bank published its final report into the examination of tracker mortgages in Irish banks.

It details how our banks put large numbers of their own customers on the wrong interest rates and overcharged them thousands of euro in interest payments. The same problem appears to have magically occurred at all the main lenders. There is no way so many repeat incidents could have occurred by accident.

The scale of the figures the report puts in black and white are deeply troubling. 40,100 customers affected. Nearly €700 million already paid in compensation. Most shocking is the fact that 99 families lost their homes while a further 216 buy to lets were repossessed. In total 315 properties were taken by financial institutions or the keys surrendered, due to decisions made by the banks themselves. 

The average compensation paid to those who lost their home has been €194,000 but how do you make right that kind of wrong, and the emotional trauma and damage this caused too many families. Many others who received smaller sums of compensation are appealing those decisions with more than half receiving more than their original award.

What’s lacking from the official statistics and the report is the human stories behind the figures. It’s impossible to describe the stress, the worry and the pressures on families, couples and individuals who were threatened with, and in over 300 cases lost their property.

What we still don’t know is who will be held responsible for the decisions that caused this, and that’s why I am calling for an independent investigation now to tell us how it happened. The examination action by the Central Bank is now completed, but we need to know who called the shots.

After many years looking at this scandal not one person in an Irish bank has been held responsible. It didn’t happen by accident. The Central Bank says in their latest report that they are undertaking enforcement investigations as to how and why this occurred, but we have had no further details made available to us.

In December 2017, I called for an independent investigation to find out who was responsible and how such similar behaviour was replicated across so many banks. We’re still waiting. This scandal has caused real damage to the lives of customers especially those who lost their homes, and the thousands who sacrificed other spending to meet more expensive mortgage payments.

The questions are simple but we still wait for answers. Why was it so widespread, who authorised it and how did it happen? Compensation alone is not good enough.

These are the same banks that are calling for the €500,000 pay and bonus cap to be lifted. If we needed reminding of why that pay cap should stay we now have it. The Irish people have sadly once again learned that our banks cannot be trusted.

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