Irish Banks Pay Out Close to $770 Million in Mortgage Scandal

(Bloomberg) -- Irish banks paid out more than three quarters of a billion dollars to customers who were overcharged on their mortgages, a scandal that has tarnished the industry for a decade since the financial crisis.

Lenders handed 683 million euros ($768 million) to customers by the end of May, the nation’s central bank said Tuesday in its final report on the so-called tracker scandal -- an increase of 36 million euros since February. Banks identified about 40,100 affected accounts, with 98% of those having received redress and compensation.

“The scale of lenders’ tracker mortgage failings was industry-wide, causing immense distress and damage to affected customers and their families,” said the central bank’s director general for financial conduct, Derville Rowland. “We continue to pursue lenders through our enforcement investigations.”

Tracker mortgage loans were closely tied to the European Central Bank’s key interest rate, and came into vogue before the crash that devastated the Irish economy from 2008. Bank funding costs surged as the financial system teetered on the edge of collapse, meaning such loans became money-losers for banks as the ECB slashed interest rates. Many customers were subsequently placed on an incorrect rate.

The central bank ordered banks that offered tracker mortgages to review their loan books in 2015. That review revealed a pattern of overcharging. The regulator handed Permanent TSB Group Holdings Plc a record fine for its role in the scandal in May, and has said it’s investigating the nation’s other main lenders.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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