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Co-op Bank fined £130,000 for delaying PPI complaints as financial cost of scandal threatens to rise even higher

As a co-operative society, the bank is owned by its employees and customers and has enjoyed a more friendly reputation that its High Street rivals. However, regulators today said that, despite instructions to process claims, the bank had ‘put in place a policy that was likely to lead to complaints not being dealt with properly’.
Co-op put complaints on hold while a judicial challenge, led by the British Bankers Association, was ongoing despite the FSA warning the industry that claims should be processed as normal.
In a letter to banks in January 2011 the FSA said: ‘We have become aware that some firms are placing on hold nearly all of their PPI complaints, citing the judicial review as cause.’
Such delays were common among other banks at the time and the fine today could open a new chapter in the scandal. The FSA refused to comment on whether other firms are facing similar action or financial penalties for delaying claims, adding only that: ‘We will continue to take action where we find PPI customers have not been treated fairly.’

Payment protection insurance (PPI) was meant to protect borrowers who found themselves out of work because of sickness or redundancy but was often sold to customers who would have been ineligible to make a claim.
Britain’s biggest banks have already set aside over £12billion pounds to compensate customers who were mis-sold policies, but it is expected to rise to £15billion or more.
The Co-op has set aside £130 million to deal with PPI compensation claims. PPI is the most complained-about product that the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) has ever seen. The service, which resolves disputes between consumers and financial institutions, has previously criticised banks and insurers for subjecting customers to ‘delays and inconvenience’.
Tracey McDermott, the FSA’s director of enforcement and financial crime, said: ‘The FSA made it clear that firms must continue to process complaints where possible during the judicial review and we warned that enforcement action could be taken if this was not done.
‘Despite this warning Co-op put in place a policy that was likely to lead to complaints not being dealt with properly during the legal proceedings.’
The FSA said that no Co-op customers suffered financial loss but it meant that a ‘significant number of people’ experienced a delay ‘for no good reason’.
It also admitted that it had not lived up to its reputation for ‘doing the right thing’ by customers in this instance, but said it is confident that there will be no repeat of the delays.
A spokesman from Co-operative Bank, said: ‘The Co-operative Bank recognises that during the relevant period, it put some complaints on hold which were capable of being progressed without waiting for the judicial review to be concluded.
‘As the FSA has recognised, no customers have suffered any financial detriment. However, we accept that there was an unnecessary delay created for some of our customers, including the small sample of cases reviewed by the FSA.
‘We have co-operated with the FSA throughout their investigation and we are confident that this would not occur again if similar circumstances were to arise.
Article taken from – This Is Money

Posted by J Beecher on 07 Jan 2013

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