The protection of mortgage borrowers, including those in arrears, is a key priority for both the Central Bank. The Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears (CCMA) must be complied with as a matter of law and the Central Bank has the power to take enforcement action against any regulated entity who does not act in compliance with the CCMA.
Whilst no public enforcement actions have been taken relating to compliance with the CCMA to date, the Central Bank’s Enforcement division liaises closely with supervisors as and when issues arise, and a credible threat of enforcement underscores the Central Bank’s powers to protect consumers.
The Central Bank takes robust enforcement action aimed at promoting principled and ethical behaviour by and within regulated entities and consumer protection is core to that work. As the Deputy will know, it has taken a number of actions in these areas since 2016 in furtherance of its consumer protection mandate, including the two largest monetary sanctions imposed to date by the Central Bank – Permanent TSB plc sanctioned €21 million in 2019 and KBC Bank Ireland plc sanctioned €18.3 million in 2020.
In addition to enforcement actions such as the Administrative Sanctions Procedure, the Central Bank uses a wide range of other tools to take action against regulated entities which fall short of its expected standards of behaviour. These include ensuring that firms and individuals seeking to access the market meet high regulatory standards, requiring firms to have robust risk management processes in place to address all risks to consumers, directing firms to put things right when they have made errors or caused consumer harm and making sure firms compensate consumers for losses in appropriate cases. The toolkit also includes the refusal and revocation of authorisations and the refusal and prohibition of individuals as appropriate.
The Central Bank assures me that it will continue to assertively supervise compliance with the CCMA and will investigate any issues that arise, including patterns of behaviour which suggest that the CCMA process is not being followed.