Bank of Ireland Fined €100.5 Million for Tracker Mortgage Breaches
The Central Bank of Ireland has fined Bank of Ireland €100,520,000 for a series of significant and long-running failings in respect of 15,910 tracker mortgage customer accounts which were impacted between August 2004 and June 2022.
It is the largest fine ever to be imposed by The Central Bank of Ireland and is in addition to the more than €186,400,000 Bank of Ireland has already paid to impacted customers identified prior to and as part of the Central Bank’s Tracker Mortgage Examination (TME).
Bank of Ireland has admitted in full to 81 separate regulatory breaches.
A statement from The Central Bank of Ireland today said, the investigation found that Bank of Ireland failed in its obligations towards its customers resulting in the loss of 50 properties, including 25 family homes, which would have been avoided if Bank of Ireland had complied with the most basic and fundamental of its consumer protection obligations.
The key findings of The Central Bank of Ireland investigation are that Bank of Ireland:
- Provided unclear contractual documents to its customers.
- Failed to interpret its unclear contractual documents in customers’ best interests.
- Failed to warn customers about the consequences of decisions relating to their mortgage.
- Implemented an unfair complaints handling practice in respect of customers.
- That the Bank’s deficient mortgage systems and controls, contributed to a significant number of operational errors.
- That it wrongfully excluded over 5,000 customers from the protections of the TME.
Bank of Ireland introduced tracker mortgages in 2001 but withdrew them in 2008 for new customers because, in line with other industry participants, Bank of Ireland viewed tracker mortgages to be unprofitable. At the same time, it carried out an assessment to determine the tracker entitlements of its existing customers.
Although Bank of Ireland determined that many customers were entitled to tracker rates, it concluded that certain groups of customers were not entitled to revert to a tracker rate after a fixed rate period ended, despite identifying ambiguities in their Mortgage Letters of Offer and Mortgage Forms of Authorisation relating to whether or not customers were entitled to revert to or be offered a tracker rate.
The Central Bank’s Director of Enforcement and Anti-Money Laundering, Seána Cunningham, said, ‘Customers are entitled to expect that they will be treated fairly and that financial institutions will act in their best interests. Bank of Ireland failed to meet these most basic expectations for almost 16,000 of its customers over an extended period of time. The failings resulted in significant and, at times, devastating detriment for many of those customers.
Our investigation exposed a culture in Bank of Ireland which, when faced with a choice, prioritised its own interests with little to no regard for the impacts on its customers. There were a series of missed opportunities during which Bank of Ireland could have done the right thing by its tracker mortgage customers. Despite these opportunities, Bank of Ireland repeatedly interpreted unclear contractual terms in its own favour and against the customer, which continued the harm and loss caused to customers over many years…’