Tracker probe up to gardaí: Donohoe

The finance minister has said it is up to gardaí to determine whether there is enough evidence for the force to investigate how banks dealt with tracker mortgage customers.

Paschal Donohoe avoided calling for a Garda probe and said he did not want to undermine any possible future investigation.

Speaking in Limerick, he said the Government would be pursuing the matter with the banks to try to find a speedy resolution for affected customers.

Asked if the Central Bank required more legislative powers to put pressure on banks to urgently compensate affected customers, the minister said: “The governor of the Central Bank [has] commented on the powers that are available to him under current legislation. He made the point that those powers are sufficient for dealing with the many issues that are there now.

“But legal change cannot deal with retrospective matters — it can only deal with challenges that we have now and ones that are developing. I will comment on options that might be open to me, after I have met the banks on this issue.”

The minister said: “It’s shining a light where we were, not only in our past, but also where we are now. It’s not acceptable to the Irish Government; this matter needs to be resolved, and I’ll be emphasising that to all the [bank] chief executives. And, at a point in the future, if necessary, I’ll outline options that will be open to the Government on the matter.”

Mr Donohoe is to meet the chief executives on Monday.

He said: “I will be emphasising to [the banks] that this is unacceptable; that we are not talking about consumer matters here. We are talking about the lives of citizens that have been badly hurt in too many numbers, by the way in which this issue has been dealt with historically, and by how it is now being dealt with.”

He said the banking sector needs to change and that, “we need to see quick progress” on the tracker mortgages situation.

“The status of the probe from the Central Bank, and the testimony from many of our citizens that have been so badly affected and hurt, by the way in which the tracker mortgage issue has been dealt with, is now obvious to all.”

“For me, it shines a light into the culture of our banking system for a period, but what is now of concern to me is that it also shines a light into the status of our culture in Irish banking now.”

Mr Donohoe said the banks need to “respond back to this difficulty with greater urgency than they are at the moment”.

In Brussels, meanwhile, the Taoiseach said he wants to wait and see to allow Mr Donohoe’s meeting to take place before commenting further.

“On the tracker issue, we have nothing new to say, I have nothing to add to what I have said already but what will happen next is that Mr Donohoe will meet with the bank CEOs on Monday and Wednesday and I think we will see what they have to say at that point and take it from there.”


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