Bank of Ireland battles 200 staff on tracker inclusion

By Pádraig Hoare

The chief executive of Bank of Ireland has said 200 staff members who believe they should be included in the tracker mortgage scandal numbers are not entitled to redress and compensation.

Francesca McDonagh told the Oireachtas finance committee that the 200 current and former staff were not part of the bank’s scheme because the Central Bank had not indicated they should be.

Ms McDonagh said the cases were considered at length but that the bank felt it had identified all those caught up in the scandal, after “looking through all the lenses” of each case.

She said approximately 99% of all of the 9,395 affected customers have received an offer of redress and compensation, coming to €137m.

Some 90% of that, over €123m, has been paid so far, said Ms McDonagh. Some 80 accounts, entitled to €1.1m, an average of around €14,000 per account, had not been traced yet, she added.

Committee chairman John McGuinness challenged the bank’s view that 200 staff should not be included, saying the reluctance of those involved in coming forward publicly was indicative of a culture of fear that remained in the bank.

The 200 say they were told, via internal communication in October 2008, that they would be rolling onto a tracker product, but that the bank reneged on its commitment.

Ms McDonagh said she “absolutely agreed” staff should speak up and that there should be no fear in doing so.

Bank of Ireland expects its non-performing exposures — non-performing loans as well as those at high risk — to fall to 5% within two years, said Ms McDonagh.

The bank is satisfied it offers a “very good” fixed-rate mortgage option on the market, despite competitors such as Ulster Bank slashing rates as low as 2.3% for two years. Head of products John O’Beirne said while the 2.3% rate is good for customers, it is only at two years.

Customers’ main concerns are getting a mortgage and having affordable monthly repayments, he added.

Ms McDonagh said Bank of Ireland’s systems “must be modernised”.

“We are replacing a myriad of legacy systems with simpler, state-of-the-art technology, designed for how customers bank today and into the future.” she said.

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