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Saturday 3 December 2016

Ex-ombudsman to help victims of PTSB mortgage scandal

Caroline Gill
Caroline Gill

The former insurance ombudsman and one-time head of the Consumers' Association, Caroline Gill, is to represent homeowners on a panel being set up by Permanent TSB to award compensation to those denied tracker mortgages.

Ms Gill, who is also a barrister, will be part of a three-person panel put in place to make awards to those who lost their homes, or took legal action against the bank.

She will form a key part of what is to be called the bank's Independent Review Panel.

The panel will be able to award amounts up to €250,000.

Consumer campaigner Brendan Burgess welcomed her appointment.

Affected

An enforcement investigation under way by the Central Bank is likely to lead to multi-million euro fines against the bank.

Permanent TSB is writing to the affected customers, and those of its subsidiary Springboard Mortgages Limited, who were also affected, over the coming weeks.

At least 1,372 customers are due to be compensated by the bank after it failed to inform them that they would be penalised for changing their mortgage terms by being blocked from moving to a tracker-rate deal down the line. At least 22 customers lost properties as a direct result, and it was a factor in 39 additional cases.

Customers who lost their homes have been offered an initial €50,000 payment while the process is in train. Final payouts are likely to be multiples of that.

The errors came to light after an investigation by the Central Bank, which ordered a redress and compensation scheme for impacted customers.

Chairman Alan Cook and chief executive Jeremy Masding said they "apologise unreservedly" for the very serious consequences of the bank's failings.

"We are truly sorry that this has occurred and our absolute focus now is on correcting the position of every impacted customer as speedily as possible," they said in a joint statement.

In relation to the 61 people who lost their houses, in some cases their homes, they added: "We will do everything in our power to help these customers."

Wrongly

It has emerged that borrowers who were wrongly overcharged by Permanent TSB, some of whom lost their homes and fell ill, will have to write up the equivalent of "victim impact reports" to get properly compensated, according to financial advisors.

Meanwhile, there have been calls for Permanent TSB chief Jeremy Masding to be brought before the Oireachtas Finance Committee to answer questions over the overcharging scandal.

Fianna Fail's finance spokesperson Michael McGrath said there should be "a number of hearings" before the committee to "address a number of issues".

"This absolutely needs to go as high as Mr Masding," said Mr McGrath. "It is a very serious issue. I am calling on him to face the committee."

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