PAUL MILLS: Bankers abused our trust

We’re not going to be fobbed off by the banks quite so easily this time, writes Paul Mills.

We saw some of the CEOs of the main lenders offer apologies for the actions of their banks — actions that resulted in what is now called the tracker mortgage scandal.

Some of them even committed to making the resolution of the scandal a main focus of their business.

It all sounds like they have had a moment of enlightenment.

Unfortunately, they were apologies and commitments that were being made several years after the event and after they had dug their heels in.

The apologies were made after meeting with the minister for finance.

Many will take the view that the apologies were made because they realised that they were driving the Government into a corner. We would be more than naive to believe they did it because they are genuinely sorry. The banks have form.

The scandals have been repeated and stretch back as long as there has been a banking industry.

Bankers are recidivists when it comes to others people’s hard earnings.

Those of us looking on, and more importantly those of us affected directly by the scandal should realise that banks, although legal entities, make no decisions. People make decisions.

In this case, that means bankers.

If we lose track of that simple truth we will lose track of a major part of the story and, more importantly the basis on which an acceptable resolution hangs.

Both the corporate lender and the people in the bank who perpetrated the scandal should be made to pay.

Banking staff may be less blasé about practices in the future.

Bankers who dip into your bank account or deliberately overcharge shouldn’t be treated less leniently than a shoplifter, a burglar, or a mugger.

If anything, the bankers’ misdeeds are far worse, because they have abused our trust. Worse, they have abused the trust after the people of Ireland bailed them out.

We also need a Central Bank with teeth that we can trust.


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