AIB concedes Covid-19 mortgage policy was 'regrettable'

AIB chief executive Colin Hunt described the bank’s handling of mortgage lending during the early stages of the coronavirus crisis as “regrettable”, after Taoiseach joined critics of the State-owned lender’s approach.

In a July 1st letter to the Department of Finance, released to Bloomberg News under freedom of information rules, Mr Hunt said the bank’s approach wasn’t “clear and transparent”.

Mr Hunt was replying to correspondence from the department. A request for its letter to Mr Hunt was rejected.

AIB had been under fire for effectively restricting people on Government wage supports from applying for mortgages during the pandemic.

Internal documents seen by The Irish Times in June revealed a de-facto ban on mortgage lending to those in receipt of State wage subsidies and extra scrutiny on applications from people working in “high risk” sectors of the economy.

A credit policy update distributed to lending managers noted that “currently the bank’s position on customers who are in receipt of any element of the employer Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme [TWSS]or the Pandemic Unemployment benefit is to pause these applications until such time as the impacted customer is no longer in receipt of the payment”.

The circular notes that there are “strictly no exceptions to this position”.

A few days after the AIB position was reported, it announced a U-turn.

Days before the bank’s letter, Mr Martin told reporters in Dublin that the Government would “have to examine and look at” the issue, and “wouldn’t be entirely happy with that approach”. – Bloomberg

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