Ulster Bank boss Jim Brown waives bonus after IT chaos

 

Ulster Bank chief executive Jim Brown said he was turning down this year's annual bonus after a computer meltdown left thousands of customers without access to cash.

He pledged an independent inquiry into the IT collapse last month which affected customers across Ireland and said nobody would be left out of pocket. Details of a compensation package will be announced within days.

Despite insisting hours earlier he would not make a decision until his bonus was reviewed at the end of the year, he said last night he would not be taking it.

He said: "Everyone at Ulster Bank is completely focused on putting things right for our customers.

"I don't want there to be any doubt that this is also my personal priority.

"I am personally committed to re-earning the trust of our customers.

"I have therefore informed the Ulster Bank board that I do not wish to be considered for an annual bonus award for 2012."

It followed calls from politicians north and south of the border to turn down his bonus this year as a goodwill gesture.

The bank initially estimated that about 100,000 customers across the country had been affected by the error, some with limited or no access to their funds at all.

Mr Brown told an Oireachtas (Irish Parliament) committee the figure is much higher than originally believed and that at least half of Ireland's 1.1 million customer base has suffered.

The bank has an estimated 1.8 million customer base across both the Republic and Northern Ireland.

The banking boss unreservedly apologised to customers and said the situation was unacceptable, but he ignored calls from Sinn Fein TD Pearse Doherty to reconsider his position.

"My focus right now is getting the bank back to normal as quickly as possible," said Mr Brown.

He also refused to reveal his salary for this year to cross-party politicians in Dublin, adding that the figures would be disclosed in the bank's annual report when published in October.

Earlier, at a Stormont committee in Belfast, Mr Brown said details of compensation payments to customers in financial difficulties because of computer problems at the bank would be ready within days.

He also promised an independent investigation into the IT failure, which left many customers with unpaid bills.

"It is unacceptable and our customers should expect better from us," he said.

"No customer will be left out of pocket as a result of this incident."

The system for processing payments - which had worked properly for 25 years - broke down on the evening of June 19 when maintenance on the computer system interfered with the processing of payments for the day's trading, he said.

That meant that the next day many customers' balances had not been updated.

By the time the technical problem was resolved there was a backlog of payments pending - including the updating of accounts, direct debit payments, benefits and mortgages.

Chris Sullivan, an executive at Ulster Bank's parent company, the Royal Bank of Scotland, said the bank still did not know exactly what had caused the IT problem.

He said it would be addressed by a forensic, open and transparent independent review into what went wrong, which would be shared with regulators, customers and the rest of the industry.

He also defended the banking group as a whole, claiming that no priority had been given to UK-based RBS and NatWest over Ulster Bank.

Technical failures at the former two have already been addressed and resolved, while Ulster Bank customers in the Republic and Northern Ireland are still being affected.

"There is no priority given because of size or geographic nature," said Mr Sullivan.

He said progress at Ulster Bank had lagged behind due to IT reasons alone.

Meanwhile, Ireland's prime minister, Enda Kenny, criticised the lack of service for customers of Ulster Bank.

"It's not acceptable in this day and age that people should have to put up with the fears and the anxieties - and the loss of service - that's been there," he told Galway Bay FM.

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive / Foreign Exchange Dealer - OTE £40,000+

£16000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Foreign Exchange Dealer is re...

SThree: Experienced Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £40000 per annum + OTE + Incentives + Benefits: SThree: Established f...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40/45k + INCENTIVES + BENEFITS: SThree: The su...

Recruitment Genius: Collections Agent

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company was established in...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones