Bank issues curt response to claims

AIB issued a curt one-line statement last night in response to the spate of damaging allegations made by Eugene McErlean.

The claims concerned AIB overcharging and the alleged use of a Caribbean trading “blackspot” by its subsidiary, Goodbody Stockbrokers.

“The issues referred to by Mr McErlean were fully reported by AIB to the relevant regulatory authorities at the time, fully investigated and fully addressed,” the bank said.

The statement appeared to be a response to Mr McErlean’s claims about overcharging, rather than on Goodbody, but no clarification was forthcoming.

Mr McErlean also implicated the Financial Regulator yesterday, saying the regulator had first been made aware of overcharging at AIB in 2001.

He said the regulator had investigated the issue in 2002 only to “bury” the report by failing to tell consumers about it.

The regulator’s office last night confirmed that “instances of overcharging” by AIB were brought to the attention of the Central Bank [the then banking regulator] in 2001.

“These matters were examined and AIB were instructed to report to the Office of the Director of Consumer Affairs, which was the relevant competent authority for issues relating to bank charges at that time,” it said. “AIB’s internal audit function informed the Central Bank at the end of 2002 that all necessary repayments had been made to customers.”

It said it had published a detailed report in December 2004 into separate overcharging issues at AIB, which primarily concerned foreign exchange.

“In that report it is stated clearly that the Financial Regulator became aware of these matters in April of 2004. Any allegations, such as those made at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Economic Regulatory Affairs, that the Financial Regulator would have withheld information relevant to its 2004 report, are completely without foundation.”

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