Gardaí will take "appropriate action" if crime committed in tracker mortgage scandal

The heads of Ulster Bank and AIB have both apologised to their customers

Gardaí will take "appropriate action" if crime committed in tracker mortgage scandal

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney speaking to the media at Stormont Castle in Belfast | Image: Niall Carson/PA Wire/PA Images

The gardaí will take “appropriate action” if they believe a crime has been committed in the ongoing tracker mortgage scandal.

The scandal dominated proceedings in the Dáil this afternoon, with the Minister for Foreign Affairs taking leader’s questions in place of the Taoiseach.

Minister Simon Coveney said meetings between the bank CEOs and the government are not just for show:

“The Central Bank is engaging with other statutory bodies in relation to the tracker mortgage examination including An Garda Síochána,” he said.

“They will take the appropriate action.

“I can assure you that the Minister for Finance was not mincing his words yesterday when he briefed Cabinet on this issue.

“So, this is not going to be a case of a number of days of grandstanding.”

Government meetings

The Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe has met with five bank chief executives so far this week.

The heads of Ulster Bank and AIB have both apologised to their customers over the scandal – however it remains unclear what fresh demands or ultimatums Minister Donohoe laid down during the talks.

This afternoon, Minister Donohoe told the Dáil that he is not satisfied with what he has heard from the banks so far:

“What I am aware of is the hurt that has been caused to citizens in our State,” he said.

“Too many people are waiting for their money back; too much confusion exists regarding where this issue stands.

“In the engagement that I have had with the banks, I have made clear to them that this is a disgrace – it should have been resolved by now.”

Class action lawsuit

The house will tomorrow debate a Fianna Fáil motion calling for customers affected by the scandal to be allowed to take a class action against the banks involved.

A class action lawsuit would see all those affected collectively represented by one member – with the outcome of the case affecting all those involved.

Should the motion be accepted, it would mark the first class action suit in Ireland.

The Private Members Motion also calls all repossession cases related to trackers to be halted and for the government to consider voting against the reappointment of directors.

Litmus test

Ahead of the motion, Fianna Fáil warned that the total price of the scandal could eventually reach €1bn.

The party’s spokesperson on finance Michael McGrath said Minister Donohoe’s meeting with the banks need to produce action:

“The ultimate litmus test here is whether we can find out why it happened, how it happened in the first place and who was involved.”

Government update

Minister Donohoe told the house that he hopes to be able to provide further clarity on the situation during tomorrow’s debate:

“I will use the influence that is open to me as Minister for Finance to bring clarity to this issue in the coming days,” he said.

“I will update the house at the first opportunity to that which I expect to be in the Private Members motion tomorrow evening.”

Apology

Following his meetings with the heads of Ulster Bank and AIB this morning, both men apologised to their customers.

AIB removed 3200 customers from trackers and to date 3100 have returned to the rates - however the bank disputes claims that another group of customers are on the wrong rate.

Chief executive Bernard Byrne said the bank had “apologised several times before and I apologise again.”

“We listened to what the minister has to say and we are going to make a fuller statement tomorrow in respect of that,” he said.

“For the moment what we are able to confirm is that we are fully committed to working in line with the framework that exists and we are confident we will be able to make significant progress again.”

Yesterday Minister Donohoe was briefed by the CEO's of Bank of Ireland, KBC and Permanent TSB.

Following the meetings the governor of the Central Bank Phillip Lane said he hopes the majority of those affected by the scandal will be repaid by Christmas.