With regard to fines and in particular to my own case. After 4 years waiting and twice that arguing we have a case. Our bank ptsb has said our mortgage is not affected. Yet with 10 questions put to them by our solicitor with the backing of 'all' the recent ombusman, ptsb have ignored the latest deadline for answers regarding our case. The ombusman sent us a letter statin failure to do so would result in imprisonment or a fine. None have been imposed. If it were me I would receive a fine immediately with imprisonment on the near horizon. Musical chairs amongst jokers... I'm the least impressed.How many customers were affected?
What happened to these customers?
There were 4 cohorts
Cohort A - 1,130customers
These customers were entitled to tracker mortgages on expiry of their fixed rate term. But they broke out of their fixed rate early, and ptsb claimed that this meant that they gave up their right to a tracker.
The Central Bank said that because they did not advise the customer when they broke out of their fixed rate early that this meant that they would lose their tracker, they were in breach of the Consumer Protection Code requirement to fully inform customers
Cohort B - 565 customers
ptsb just made plenty of errors through having bad systems. They put people on the wrong rate. They didn't give people trackers they were due. Just the ordinary mistakes which banks make. [And contrary to public opinion, there were also hundreds of customers who were put on a lower rate than they should have been, but these customers were not asked to pay back the "undercharge"]
Cohort C - 279 customers [Sorted in 2010 before the current Tracker Mortgage Enquiry]
There customers had a rate specified in their mortgage contract. But they later fixed their mortgage rate. When the fixed rate ended, they were put on a higher tracker rate. ptsb conceded back in 2009 that this was ambiguous. And when customers complained, they were given the lower rate. But ptsb should have given this rate to all affected customers whether they complained or not.
Cohort D 33 Customers
At the end of a fixed rate period, customers were offered a choice of fixed, variable or tracker. Many chose the variable rate or another fixed rate. ptsb claimed that this meant that they gave up their right to a tracker in the future.
But the contract said: "At the end of any fixed rate period , you will be offered a tracker". But if they later fixed, ptsb refused them a tracker. This was wrong.
Are there other customers still arguing their case?
Yes, there are two main cohorts of customers who are not happy with the rate they were on.
Cohort E - Prevailing Rate customers
These borrowers were told that at the end of their fixed rate, they would be offered a tracker mortgage at the "then prevailing rate". ptsb charged rates of between 1.8% and 3.25%. These customers are arguing that these rates are too high.
Cohort F - Discounted tracker customers
This group of customers took out a mortgage called a "discounted tracker" where they received a discount of 0.2% for the first year and were charged a margin of 0.6%. They assumed that the rate they would be charged on expiry of the first year would be 0.8%, but they were offered the then prevailing rate of up to 3.25%
The Central Bank has concluded its investigation with ptsb so if these customers want to take their cases further, they must now go to the Financial Services Ombudsman or the High Court.
Why was no individual fined? Why did no heads roll?
I asked the Central Bank yesterday if there are any sanctions investigations against current or former employees of ptsb ongoing. They said that they could not comment.
So we just don't know.
It's much easier for the Central Bank to impose a sanction on a bank than on an individual. It is always in the bank's interest to agree to the sanction and fine and draw a line in the sand. Individuals like Michael Fingleton have no incentive to agree to a fine and can run rings around the Central Bank when they try to personally sanction them.