"Financial abuse on a grand scale" - customers reveal the human cost of tracker mortgage scandal

Thomas Ryan saw his wife suffer a nervous breakdown - losing her ability to speak

"Financial abuse on a grand scale" - customers reveal the human cost of tracker mortgage scandal

Image: RollingNews.ie

Some of the tracker mortgage holders defrauded by Irish banks have told the Oireachtas of the devastating medical and financial effects on their families.

Three women and one man appeared before TDs appealing for quicker action against the 15 banks known to have taken people off trackers.

A Central Bank probe has so far uncovered some 20,000 cases – however, it is estimated that number could reach 30,000.

Tracker mortgages are set at a fixed percentage or 'margin' above the European Central Bank rate.

As its rates plummeted during the financial crisis, customer rates should have dropped to close to 1%.

However the probe has revealed that thousands of customers were overcharged or wrongly denied a tracker rate - leading to customers facing mortgage refusals and in some cases, potential home repossessions.

The 15 lenders are involved in the probe and are now facing the prospect of having to restore the rates and make repayments – which could be worth up to €40,000 per customer.

Last week Ulster Bank said it will have to pay more than €100,000 to some of the 3,500 customers caught up in the scandal.

Complete lack of "honesty and human decency"

This morning Permanent TSB (PTSB) customer Thomas Ryan described the impact the scandal has had on himself and his family:

“The position they put us and countless others in could have been totally prevented if they had shown a shred of honesty and human decency,” he said.

“I myself suffered a stroke in 2013 with lasting consequences to my life, family and work.

“My wife Clare suffered a nervous breakdown in 2015, losing her ability to speak.”

He described the conduct of Irish lenders as “appalling” and warned that people had taken their own lives after being defrauded.

He said he had listened to some of the submissions made by banks to the committee in recent weeks, labelling it an “absolute disgrace; the generic, legalistic garbage they are churning out.”

"Sick to the pit of our stomachs"

Hazel Melbourne, also a PTSB customer, said she had chosen to go public with her story in order to give a voice to her family and others.

While she was not willing to reveal the most horrific effects of the scandal, she said she wants politicians to step in and tackle the banks:

“There is one major consequence that has affected us and unfortunately I don’t want to disclose it in public – probably to the delight of Permanent TSB,” she said.

“Then to find out by a letter six years later that it was all down to a so-called error made by our bank; to be honest it was inconceivable – and still is.

“We are sick to the pit of our stomachs to think that all we had been through was avoidable.”

“Financial abuse on a grand scale"

The Central Bank was described today as “arriving late to the party” but the customers financial advisor Padraic Kissane said today he has got faith in its investigation.

He said lenders were guilty of “financial abuse on a grand scale, contrived to deceive customers of their contractual rights," adding that customers had been treated with arrogance, condescension and a lack of empathy.