Dublin-based bank AIB has been hit with a record fine of almost €100m for serious regulatory breaches in its handling of some mortgage customers.
Ireland’s Central Bank said AIB’s failings caused unacceptable harm and loss to customers over the course of nearly 18 years.
13 customers lost their family homes as a result of AIB’s actions.
In total more than 12,000 customers were impacted.
The investigation concerned customers who had tracker mortgages.
Other Irish banks have already been fined for their part in the industry-wide scandal.
Tracker mortgages became very popular in the Republic of Ireland during the economic boom years – the interest rate was fixed at a certain level above the European Central Bank (ECB) base rate, often for the lifetime of the mortgage.
Homeowners taking these mortgages were effectively betting that the ECB would keep rates low.
That is a gamble that has paid off for consumers but was a disaster for banks.
Trackers were mostly loss-making as the interest charged was less than the banks’ cost of funding.
In response the banks tried to force or mislead customers into giving up their trackers.
The Central Bank said AIB was responsible for “a litany of failings” where customers were wrongly denied their tracker entitlements and others lost their tracker rates due to AIB’s deficiencies in its provision of day to day mortgage services.
The Central Bank’s Director of Enforcement and Anti-Money Laundering, Seána Cunningham, said that “in respect of many of its failings, AIB had opportunities to act in order to address those failings and prevent further breaches of its customers entitlements – AIB failed to take these opportunities”.
“Underpinning AIB’s failings over a prolonged period of time was a culture of failing to properly consider and recognise the rights of its customers and its obligations to them,” she added.
A fine of €83.3m was imposed on AIB while its subsidiary, EBS, was fined €13.4m.