Stock market increases reveal history of poor controls

Over 10 years ago, just when the bank lending boom was getting under way, the then Competition Authority launched a report investigating the structure of the financial industry here.

Stock market increases reveal history of poor controls

On the day of publication of its final report, the shares of many of the Irish banks rose on the Dublin stock market.

Analysts at the time said that those stock market increases told us all we needed to know about the study — there was little in the report that would hurt the banks or impose new regulations.

Yesterday, Permanent TSB apologised for the huge damage it had caused in pursuing customers who it had wrongly informed about their mortgage contracts with the bank.

It revealed at least 22 customer accounts had lost homes or properties because of the actions it had taken. The bank emerged from the banking wreckage only because taxpayers injected €2.7bn to keep it alive.

New senior management came in over three years ago and pledged to clean up the bank. They fought a successful battle to keep it from going under.

Unfortunately, the new managers also endorsed a legacy policy of effectively blaming their own customers for failures of the bank’s own making.

They pursued cases to the High Court and the Supreme Court.

Yesterday it apologised, but it appears no one will be sanctioned or lose their job. The bank is still majority-owned by the Government.

About a quarter of the taxpayers’ stake in the bank was sold to stock market investors only this spring.

The company recently set aside €112m to deal with “legal legacy and compliance issues” involving the cases it has now detailed.

PTSB faces a bill of up to €70m in compensation, redress and to meet future lawsuits and past legal costs.

Part of the costs may in time include a €10m fine from the Central Bank.

Despite all that has happened during the crash, the PTSB case shows there are few tough regulations controlling the banking sector.

Yesterday, PTSB shares were among the largest gainers on the Dublin stock market. Like a decade ago, the share price rise tells us all we need to know about controls facing the banks.

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