News & Media

Beefed-Up Financial Ombudsman Needed to Stop the Rot Within Financial Services Sector

30 March 2021

Statement by Ged Nash TD
Spokesperson on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform
  • Financial Services & Pensions Ombudsman (FSPO) crucial to promoting much-needed accountability and trust in the Irish financial sector
  • FSPO should be well-resourced and have sharp teeth to tackling financial malpractice, especially in wake of Covid-19 challenges

Labour finance spokesperson Ged Nash has welcomed today’s report from the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman (FSPO) and their committed staff who have sought to protect the public from malpractice in the financial services sector.

Labour TD for Louth & East Meath Ged Nash said:

“From past scandals we know to our cost that the financial services sector cannot always be trusted to act in the best interests of their customers. The Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman has played a vital role throughout the pandemic, highlighting cases where ordinary people were wronged by institutions who have become synonymous with ripping off customers and the absence of a customer-focused culture.

“The impact of Covid-19 formed an element of 600 cases brought to the FSPO in the last year. It’s worth noting the 120 claims relate to business interruption issues and the recent FBD judgment has important implications for these cases and for thousands of pubs and restaurants across the country who remain closed as a consequence of public health regulations.

“The rogue actions of the insurance industry throughout the pandemic must be a final warning to a government who needs to finally get a grip on an industry which requires a radical shake-up. They must finally show they are on the side of main street businesses who are the very backbone of our local economies.

“The ongoing fallout from the tracker mortgage affair shows the culture of wilfully disregarding the best interests of customers is alive and well at the top of financial services in Ireland. We aren’t all in this together.

“It is no surprise to see Ulster Bank tops the list for breaches in respect of the FSPO report, given the whopping €38 million fine for tracker mortgage failings imposed by the Central Bank last week and the rotten culture the investigation exposed. The FSPO plays a crucial role in getting some degree of justice for victims of this kind of behaviour and we must never forget the victims of this scandal, and especially the 100 families who had their homes wrongly repossessed because of the actions of several banks.

“The findings of this report should be a wakeup call for the Minister of Finance – he needs to stop being a commentator on these issues of greed, misbehaviour and malpractice, and fast-track the long promised Senior Executive Accountability Regime draft law and bring it before the Oireachtas as a matter of urgency.

“A beefed-up financial services ombudsman with increased staffing and resources is needed to help usher in a new financial services culture in Ireland which places the interests of ordinary customers at its heart.”