One of the biggest fines ever has been imposed on Ulster Bank after it left thousands of customers without banking services for a month.
The Central Bank slapped a fine of €3.5m on the bank after a system crash left 600,000 customers with no banking services for a 28-day period in 2012.
The regulator said it was the largest ever fine.
In 2008 Quinn Insurance was levied a record €3.25m fine, with Seán Quinn personally being fined €200,000. These fines were related to loans issued from Quinn Insurance to an associated company that he controlled. The loans breached insurance regulations.
The fine has been waived by the Central Bank, as it would have to be financed from the Insurance Compensation Fund.
Now Ulster Bank has been reprimanded and fined for IT and governance failings.
Director of enforcement at the Central Bank Derville Rowland said: “The IT failure caused significant and unacceptable inconvenience to affected customers trying to carry out their everyday financial transactions.”
The regulator said that over a prolonged period customers were unable to access cash through ATMs/cash and pay for goods and services and there was a delay in the processing of payments.
The bank relies on its parent Royal Bank of Scotland Group to provide it with IT services.
Chief executive of Ulster Bank Jim Browne responded by saying his bank accepted the huge fine.
“The inconvenience that was caused to our customers went to the heart of the trust they have in us as a bank and we are quite clear that they should never have to experience anything like this ever again.”
He insisted that the bank has since invested in its IT systems.
“We have also established a mirror bank so that in the event of a service outage we can still process transactions while we recover our systems.”
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