Central Bank to prioritise legislation on mortgage arrears

The Central Bank will prioritise legislation on mortgage arrears over the next year it said yesterday.

Last year the Central Bank received settlements for breaches of practice of over €5m, including the single largest settlement ever made of €3.35m.

The settlement was made by the Combined Insurance Company of Europe Ltd for a number of infringements.

Director of enforcement Peter Oakes said: “Enforcement action combined with the resultant publicity has a powerful impact, promoting compliance and deterring other industry participants from similar non-compliance whilst educating stakeholders on the standards and behaviours expected of them.”

The supervisory division has identified areas such as mortgage arrears; retail intermediaries; payment protection insurance; anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing; transaction reporting and systems and controls as their enforcement priorities.

The Central Bank will undertake the enforcement work under the Prism framework. Prism is a risk-based initiative focused on the Central Bank taking a more assertive role and allocating resources accordingly. In the last year the Central Bank issued more than €5m in fines and dismissed two directors of regulated financial services companies.

The Combined Insurance Company of Europe Ltd record settlement of over €3m was made for the breaches, including a failure to follow standard claims procedures, over-insuring customers, not properly handling complaints, failure to recommend the most suitable products to customers and the failure, by some of its tied agents, to act fairly, honestly and professionally towards consumers.

It was also found to have wrongly obtained customers’ bank account details in order to use them to set up policies in other peoples’ names. The breaches took place between August 2006 and April of this year.

Susquehanna International Securities Limited was fined €60,000 for failing to report over 300,000 transactions in financial instruments.

A €750,000 settlement was agreed with MBNA over an accidental overcharging of their clients to the value of €16m.

Scotiabank have been required to pay €600,000 for failing to provide accurate information in reporting returns.

A €160,000 agreement was reached with Goldman Sachs for failing to comply with EU regulations for the licensing and supervision of credit institutions.

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