15 Ulster Bank customers lost homes over tracker moves

Fifteen Ulster Bank customers had their homes seized as a result of their mortgage being changed from a tracker rate.

15 Ulster Bank customers lost homes over tracker moves

In documents prepared for the Oireachtas finance committee, which will hear from bank management today, the bank confirms homeowners lost their private dwellings as a result of the scandal.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said the “appalling behaviour” of the banks was not acceptable and was adamant that those affected should be awarded redress and compensation.

“The growing number of people involved now, over 30,000 affected, and those who lost their properties and the trauma of losing your home when you did nothing wrong, is something that is not acceptable to me,” he said.

The documents, seen by the Irish Examiner, state that as of November, the bank had identified some 3,500 customers who were moved off the tracker rate.

The documents show tracker mortgages accounted for 64%, or €11.2bn, of Ulster Bank’s €17.5bn portfolio of loans in June 2017.

Typically, trackers lost banks money because customers were paying a lower interest rate than banks were being charged.

The financial burden of trackers is suspected to be one of the main reasons banks wrongly moved customers from the mortgages.

Ulster Bank has previously been criticised by politicians for its slow progress in identifying the total number of affected customers. Outgoing chief executive Gerry Mallon will say today that the bank is still working to identify any additional mortgage holders.

Ulster Bank will say it has returned 2,500 customers to the correct rate. It has paid compensation to 1,017.

Mr Mallon will issue an unreserved apology for the failures. Ulster Bank has 200 staff working on the issue.

The documents asks Ulster Bank if it has identified which staff members or directors were authorised to deny customers trackers. The bank has declined to comment and said the issue was the subject of a Central Bank investigation.

Some 53 customers were not returned to the tracker rate because that would have resulted in a net increase in monthly mortgage repayments.

The remaining 1,000 customers have redeemed their mortgage but are included as part of the remediation and redress programme.

“As part of the tracker mortgage examination, Ulster Bank has conducted a forensic review of thousands of customer accounts and their monthly transactions that occurred over a 15-year period,” it said.

At the end of 2016, the provision established by the bank in respect of the tracker scandal was €211m.

Committee chairman John McGuinness said it is “keen to learn how and why the bank denied customers a tracker mortgage product or overcharged other customers, resulting in unnecessary financial hardship for so many”.

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