The Central Bank needs to move on as an "annoying" inquiry into a mortgage overcharging controversy hampers growth, KBC Group's chief executive Johan Thijs has said.

The Central Bank is investigating all the major retail banks here, and KBC Bank Ireland said today it has set aside about €14m for a potential fine from the regulator. 

Financial news service Bloomberg said that Johan Thijs today urged the Central Bank to move on from the issues tied to the tracker mortgage issue.

"What is still an annoying thing is the whole tracker mortgage stuff," Thijs said on a call with analysts after the Belgian lender's third quarter earnings today.

"Honestly, I would recommend the Central Bank of Ireland, come on guys, turn the page, focus on doing business," he said.

"We have learned our lessons, we know what to do," he added. 

The Central Bank declined to comment, Bloomberg said.

The comments have been described by Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson, Pearse Doherty, as a disgrace and display "the worst instincts of the banking industry; pure arrogance, contempt for customers and a profit motive that trumped everything else".

"Some are saying these comments are proof the arrogant banker is back. In truth, the arrogant banker never left," said Deputy Doherty.


In a statement, KBC Group said its CEO made the comments during the analyst call on third quarter results this morning.

"He was referring to the long drawn-out investigation process and its huge administrative burden, this is where KBC and the industry need closure," the statement read. "He repeated that we at KBC recognise the errors of the tracker period, as we have repeatedly admitted and we fully expect to be fined, but given the time and energy spent on the investigation we find it hard to understand why it is still not finalized."

The Irish Banking Culture Board has described the KBC Group's chief executive's comments as "unhelpful".

It said that many victims of the tracker mortgage controversy are still in the course of having their complaints resolved. 

"They can not move on," it stated. 

Banks in Ireland have paid about €693m in compensation and redress to more than 40,000 customers who were caught up in the tracker mortgage controversy. 

Thijs's comments come days after the Central Bank's deputy governor Ed Sibley scolded Irish retail banks for their conduct, warning the regulator "has had to push too many retail banks too hard over too long to actually put your customers first."

Tracker mortgage loans were closely tied to the European Central Bank's key interest rate and were popular in Ireland before the financial crisis in 2008. 

Then, bank funding costs surged as the financial system teetered on the edge of collapse, meaning such loans became money-losers for banks interest rates plunged. 

Many customers were subsequently placed on an incorrect rate.

Thijs said he wants more of a focus on the future. 

"Stop doing old nitty-gritty stuff which is an administrative hampering of the development of the financial institution - and the financial market as a whole in Ireland," Thijs said. 

"Let's turn that page," he added.