Thursday, 28 March 2019

Questions (64)

Michael McGrath

Question:

64. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if the Central Bank has a role in consumer protection for pension providers; if this is reserved for the Pensions Authority; if the Central Bank and the Pensions Authority have been informed by a company (details supplied) of the failure to pay bonus payments on pension fund plans; if so, when they were informed; if 2,000 customers have been affected; the amount of bonuses that were not paid in monetary terms; the way in which the Central Bank and the Pensions Authority plan to proceed with the issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14686/19]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I will respond to the Deputy's question in relation to the Central Bank of Ireland, however, the Pensions Authority is under the aegis of the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, and therefore any related queries should be directed to my colleague Minister Regina Doherty.

The Central Bank of Ireland does have a consumer protection role in respect of pension providers. For example, the Central Bank’s Consumer Protection Code 2012 applies, where relevant, to activities such as the sale and administration of third pillar pension products (consisting of private, individual, pension plans funded from personal savings) conducted by regulated entities operating in the state.

I have been informed that the Central Bank is aware of the error in relation to Irish Life and is engaging with the company. However, as the Deputy will be aware the Central Bank cannot comment on the specifics of any individual firm.

Errors by regulated financial services firms are monitored by the Central Bank to conclusion to ensure customers are treated fairly in line with the requirements of the Consumer Protection Code.

In relation to any error, the Central Bank expects firms to have robust systems and controls in place and where issues that affect customers arise, they should be addressed and rectified, with the overarching objective of protecting consumers’ interests. Firms must also communicate clearly and promptly with affected customers and ensure that any identifiable loss is remediated.

Any customer who considers that they have been affected by this error, should contact Irish Life directly.

If consumers are not satisfied with how they are treated, they are entitled to make a complaint to Irish Life. If they are not satisfied with the response they receive, they can make a complaint to the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman.

As I stated at the outset, the Deputy's queries in relation to the role of the Pensions Authority in this matter should be addressed to my colleague the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection.