Belfast Telegraph

Bank boss defends compensation deal

The boss of Ulster Bank has rejected accusations of too little, too late over compensation for a month-long IT meltdown which affected a third of the bank's two million customers.

In a gesture to repair its damaged reputation, personal current account holders in the Republic of Ireland will get 25 euro while those in Northern Ireland get £20 in one-off payouts.

On top of that a three month banking fee holiday has been offered along with reimbursement of expenses run up by customers inconvenienced by the chaos.

Jim Brown, Ulster Bank chief executive, rejected claims from some politicians and business leaders that the compensation package was too small.

"I'm happy with it. I think it goes far enough," he said. "In terms of larger more complex cases, someone not being able to settle on a property, we will look at those on a case by case basis."

The final compensation bill is expected to be at least twice the initial 35 million euro set aside earlier in the year. Ulster Bank's head of retail banking Stephen Cruise said he expected the total bill to be "tens of millions" more than the money already provided by RBS.

That will cover other elements of the package such as reimbursement of reasonable out-of-pocket expenses incurred during the technical chaos topped up by 20% to a maximum of 120 euro or £100. Anyone affected by the June 19-July 18 crisis is urged to contact the bank and use all phone bills, bus tickets, travel receipts, bills or invoices from the period to demonstrate costs.

But Mark Fielding, chief executive of small business group Isme, refused to accept that was a victory for the consumer. "With regard to the miserly compensation being offered, it will cost small business owners more than the compensation to make a claim, to include bus tickets, phone bills and travel receipts," he said.

The bank said it will start processing claims from Monday. Amid fears that the banking breakdown will damage customers' credit rating, free financial health checks are being offered from the Irish Credit Bureau. Reports on ratings will be available within five days for customers with concerns.

Ulster Bank said any errors made on fees, charges and debit interest will be corrected by the end of October. An inquiry by Ireland Central Bank into the Ulster Bank crisis is not expected to be completed for months. The penalty which the bank could face is up to five million euro.

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