The Taoiseach called on the banks to apologise to affected customers and pay compensation
The Taoiseach has called on banks that wrongfully took customers off tracker mortgages to apologise, pay compensation and to do it ‘yesterday.’
Leo Varadkar was speaking as the Cabinet gathered in UCC for a meeting focusing on Brexit and healthcare.
He was speaking after some of those who were affected by the scandal told the Oireachtas of the devastating medical and financial effects on their families.
A Central Bank probe into the scandal has so far uncovered some 20,000 cases – however, it is estimated that number could reach 30,000.
The 15 lenders involved in the probe are now facing the prospect of having to restore the rates and make repayments.
The Taoiseach called on the banks to apologise make things right with affected customers.
“I am somebody who is on a tracker mortgage and in many ways it has been a god-send because it has meant that my mortgage has been very affordable in years gone by,” he said.
“I can only imagine what it would have been if it had of been four, five or six percent,” he said.
“And there are many people and many families who were driven to distraction and endured enormous mental health traumas and fears about what would happen to their family. Those things should never have happened.
“As far as I am concerned the deadline was yesterday.
“Any bank that wrongfully took somebody off a tracker – they should apologise, they should pay the money back and they should do it yesterday.”
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.
“Any banks – whether they are partially owned by the state-owned or not – who took people off tracker mortgages incorrectly should put that right," said Mr Varadkar.
“They should put it right yesterday.
“They should repay what is owed offer an apology and also compensation.”
Yesterday Padraic Kissane, financial advisor to customers affected by the scandal said banks were guilty of “financial abuse on a grand scale.”
He described the Central Bank as “arriving late to the party” but said he has got faith in its investigation.