BoI directors face grilling over credit card fee hike

Bank of Ireland’s two public interest directors will face major criticism by TDs and senators today over the bank’s decision to hike interest charges on its credit card during the Christmas period.

Bank of Ireland, the only major Irish-owned bank whose majority shareholding is not controlled by the State, angered consumers this week with increases of up to 4% on its credit card interest rates.

The Consumers’ Association of Ireland accused the bank of “making a determined calculation to take advantage of people”.

Today, the bank’s two public interest directors, Tom Considine and Joe Walsh, will appear before the Oireachtas Finance Committee to face questioning about their role as the public’s watchdog in how the bank is conducting its business.

Mr Considine, a former general secretary of the Department of Finance, received €90,000 in director’s fees in 2011 while Mr Walsh, a former minister in several Fianna Fáil administrations, was paid €79,000.

It is the first time they have faced questioning over their role since their appointment to the board three years ago.

The public interest directors of AIB, Bank of Ireland, and Permanent TSB are appearing before the committee this week amid continuing concern about rising mortgage interest rates and banking fees, and difficulties faced by businesses in obtaining loans.

Bank of Ireland, bailed out with €4.7bn of taxpayers’ money, justified the interest rate hike on its credit cards on the basis that it was the first increase since Aug 2011.

A spokesperson claimed the rise was necessary because of high funding costs and the continuing high risk and loss profiles.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny ruled out any intervention by the Government with Bank of Ireland after the issue was raised during leader’s questions in the Dáil yesterday.

Mr Kenny stressed the decision was a commercial one for the bank and reminded TDs that the State’s shareholding in Bank of Ireland was only 15%.


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