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. Brian O'Boyle writes.
The DIRT scandal 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.
This latest scandal involved banks allowing people to come of tracker mortgages but then refusing to put them back on to them again. This, despite having a legal agreement to do so. So far 17,000 cases have been identified, but there could be 30,000 or more.
Tragically, 23 people have lost their home after being illegally refused access to their tracker mortgage. A further 79 Buy-To-Let properties have also been seized.
The Irish Central Bank knows 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. Most of these banks only exist because Irish taxes bailed them out.
The banks cost us millions but rather than being grateful they bullied and harassed people onto more expensive mortgage products. These banks are guilty of crime and corruption on an industrial scale. The offending banks should be wound down and banking should be done by a public institution dedicated to the public good.