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KBC boss apologises to the Irish public after he called the tracker mortgage scandal 'annoying'

“I would like to personally apologise to the Irish people.”

Image: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

KBC GROUP CEO Johan Thijs has issued an apology for describing the Irish tracker mortgage scandal as “annoying”. 

Thijs made the comments yesterday during a conference call following the announcement of the bank’s third quarter results

He had called on the Irish regulator to move on from the scandal and insisted the bank had learned from its mistakes, saying that the lender had set aside €14m for an expected fine from the Central Bank.

“What is still an annoying thing is all tracker mortgage stuff. Honestly, I would recommend to [the] Central Bank of Ireland: come on, guys, turn the page,” Thijs said at the time.

This evening, he issued an apology.

It read: “I would like to personally and sincerely apologise to our customers and to the Irish public for the offence caused by my words yesterday in relation to the tracker mortgage examination and investigation.

I want to acknowledge the insensitivity of what I said and the manner in which it was delivered. It was unintentional and I am truly sorry for the offence caused. 

“KBC has previously apologised for the way we handled tracker mortgages on behalf of our customers, many of whom were directly impacted and I would like, also personally, to formally reiterate that apology again today.

“I would also like to acknowledge the crucial role played by the Central Bank of Ireland (CBI) in all regulatory matters, including the tracker mortgage examination. I want to express my support and respect on behalf of KBC for the role that the CBI plays in the regulation of banking in Ireland. We have fully cooperated with this investigation and will continue to do so until all matters in relation to tracker mortgages are dealt with.” 

An investigation by the Central Bank found more than 40,000 customers were impacted by the scandal, which saw them refused the right to return to tracker loans by Irish banks during the economic downturn.

In the worst cases, people lost their homes because of their lenders’ failings. The Central Bank subsequently issued around €700m in fines to the five banks responsible.

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