The powers of the Credit Review Office have been strengthened further, as it is now qualified to run the rule over rejected loans from Ulster Bank, rather than just Bank of Ireland and AIB.
Ulster Bank said yesterday it will join the Credit Review Office from the beginning of June. It will be the first banks to voluntarily join the appeals’ process. It said it has nearly €2bn available to lend to business customers this year.
“We are committed to a strong and productive banking relationship with all customers and, in 2015, we are making €1.9bn available for business lending,” said chief executive Jim Brown.
“We are working hard to ensure that viable businesses, of all sizes, can access the necessary finance to enable them to invest and grow and we see [this] announcement as an important addition for our customers.”
The move marks the latest strengthening of the Credit Review Office. It was established in 2010 to act as a neutral monitoring/ appeals agent for the lending activities and decisions of the main banks after the limit of the loan applications it could rule on were expanded from €500,000 to €3m in late 2013.
Finance Minister Michael Noonan yesterday welcomed Ulster Bank’s decision, saying it recognised the contribution that SMEs make to the economy and their importance in securing a sustainable recovery.
“Ulster Bank’s inclusion in the Credit Review Office’s remit is very important as Ulster Bank is a key lender to SMEs, particularly in the asset finance space, and to the farming community,” said Mr Noonan.
Credit Review Office chief John Trethowan said that his office already had a good working relationship with Ulster Bank, and welcomed its decision to join the SME and farm credit-review appeals process.
“This is a further sign of Ulster Bank’s long-term commitment to the Irish banking market as a major player, at a time when the numbers of banks servicing the SME/ farm sectors is a concern,” said Mr Trethowan.
“The Credit Review Office looks forward to building on an already good working relationship with Ulster Bank, and ensuring that its viable and potentially viable SME and farm customers are further supported in the provision of access to finance through an independent appeals service.”
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