Tracker mortgage scandal prompts Hayes request for EU to investigate cartel activities at Irish banks

Former Dublin South West TD, and current MEP, Brian Hayes has made a complaint to the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition in relation to the tracker mortgage scandal in this state.

Mr Hayes has asked the commission to investigate “potential cartel activities” at Irish banks.

He said there are “clear indications” of “collaboration between the banks in order to intentionally deny customers their correct tracker mortgage rate.”

Up to 30,000 people were wrongly moved off tracker rates by 11 Irish banks and earlier this week the major lenders revealed the number of customers they’ve identified as having been impacted and outlined their compensation & redress timelines.

In a statement released yesterday afternoon, Mr Hayes said it is important that “all the competent authorities” in Europe and Ireland investigate the “shocking actions of banks.”

“While we still don’t have all the facts in the tracker mortgage scandal, the clear indications are that there was collaboration between the banks in order to intentionally deny customers their correct tracker mortgage rate,” he said.

“If this proves to be the case, this would be – in very simple terms – a cartel.”

He said the EC Directorate General for Competition (DGC) has the power to conduct raids on premises, examine business records and question staff – adding that there is a “raft of information” to work with arising from the ongoing Central Bank investigation into the scandal.

“If Irish banks intentionally collaborated to ensure that customers did not get the correct interest rates on their mortgage product, this is effectively an example of controlling rates in an effort to restrict competition in the mortgage market and to share that market.

“I would hope that if there are whistle-blowers, they could come forward and possibly share their information with DGC.”

Mr Hayes also said there was “precedent for commission action in cases such as these.”

“In June 2002, the commission fined eight Austrian banks in the ‘Lombard Club’ cartel case.

“The commission concluded that Austrian banks developed a highly institutionalised price-fixing scheme with a view to fixing deposit, lending and other rates to the detriment of businesses and consumers in Austria.”