Bankers, Trackers and Crooks

Back in 2008 while we were being told we had to bail out the banks to prevent financial armeggdon complaints were made to the Financial Ombudsman that the banks had moved people off their tracker mortgage rates or were refusing to move those who had taken on a fixed rate back onto the tracker rate. 

Socialist Worker

Bankers, Trackers and Crooks

Pic: Bank of Ireland execs receive 2017 Deal of the the Year award from Finance Dublin

James O’Toole writes

But nothing was done.

Neither the Ombudsman nor Fianna Fáil wanted to hear any more bad news about the banks- they also understood how unpalatable it would be for most people to swallow the bailout of banks that were engaged in wholesale white collar criminality.

So the rip off continued.

The banks bullied and threatened up to 30,000 people off their cheaper mortgages.

The total cost of this criminality could be between €500 million to €1 billion. €120m has been paid to around 3,300 customers already as a result of the Central Bank’s examination.

This is in addition to €36.8m in redress and compensation provided by Permanent TSB and €6.2m by Springboard Mortgages to customers.

But this doesn’t even begin to compensate the  families who lost their homes due to this criminality by the banks.

Tragically, 23 people have lost their homes after being illegally refused access to their tracker mortgage.

A further 79 Buy-To-Let properties have also been seized.

The Irish Central Bank knew about this for well over two years.

The banks were told to offer compensation back in 2015, but they have dragged their heels and refused to budge despite the fact that most of these banks only exist because Irish taxes bailed them out.


Paschall Donohue Admonishes.
Paschall Donohue Admonishes.

So how did Fine Gael respond when this hit the headlines? Pascal Donohue called the banks (AIB, Bank of Ireland, KBC, Permanent TSB, and Ulster Bank) in to ‘admonish’ them.

Now compare this to the millions spent on pursuing the water activists from Jobstown.

The banks get ‘told off’ and promised not to do it again.

But we can’t trust them.

The Irish banks are repeat criminal offenders. Back in the 1980’s, the banks helped thousands of wealthy customers to avoid their taxes in what became known as the DIRT scandal.

This involved bank managers telling staff to pretend their customers were living overseas.

AIB were particularly guilty of this offence eventually paying €90 million back to the Revenue Commissioners.

Even when they were caught the banks illegally moved tens of millions of pounds to the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.

During the 1970’s a branch of Guinness and Mahon Bank was used to help 179 people to avoid their taxes using fake Cayman Island accounts.

Charles Haughey was one of the clients, as was the father of the current Minister for Foreign Affairs – Hugh Coveney.

The Central Bank knew about his scam but chose to do nothing about it. The whole affair only came to light when the Moriarty Tribunal started considering corruption payments to Charles Haughey and Michael Lowry. No one went to jail, however.

There is a tight network, a Golden Circle, of bankers, developers and their political supporters in Ireland.

As long as this establishment Golden Circle remains in power the banks will engage in criminality with an attitude of impunity. They feel they are protected.

One Solution

The fundamental reason the Banks behave in the way they do is that their goal is to maximise their profits at all costs. But they  say the banking provides a vital service to society.

Indeed they do – just as schools, hospitals, buses, trains and trams provide vital services – but the moment you run these things as private businesses the service is subordinated to profit.

Indeed the fact that the service is vital is exploited to increase and protect the profits, including by dodgy and illegal means.

That is why the only solution to take the banks into public ownership and have one State Banks run to serve the people, not make profits.

We need to put the banks under real democratic control- to nationalise them but not in the hands of the establishment who nationalised the banks and then, once they are back on their feet,  want to sell them back to private hands.

Instead we need a real nationalisation where the banks are in the hands of democratic bodies run by ordinary people, and where the books are open to public inspection.

To get that will  take a people power rebellion by ordinary people.

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