Northern Ireland

Ulster Bank, Danske and Santander write to NI Affairs Committee

Cash machine Image copyright PA
Image caption Northern Ireland's banking system was scrutinised by a committee of MPs at Westminster

Three banks have written to the chair of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee to complain of inaccuracies in its report on the banking sector.

The committee's report criticised the banks over branch closures and lack of transparency on new lending.

Ulster Bank, Danske and Santander have complained about specific matters of fact, not the overall conclusions.

Santander made the strongest complaint referring to "misleading and inaccurate references".

The report said that Santander was not making lending data available in the same way as the other banks.

However, the bank informed the clerk of the committee that was wrong after receiving an advance copy of the report.

In its letter, Santander said: "It is disappointing that the committee chose not to correct the report or press release before publication.

"These references arbitrarily single out Santander and give a misleading account of how Santander reports data."

'Sufficient liquidity'

Danske Bank took issue with a line in the report that said its decision not to take part in the government's Funding for Lending scheme had potentially denied Northern Ireland "a further capacity for growth".

The bank said it has had no need to use the scheme due to its strong funding and liquidity position.

It added: "At all times we have had more than sufficient liquidity to meet the needs of new and existing customers."

It said it is therefore inaccurate to conclude the bank has denied the economy capacity for growth.

Ulster Bank told the committee its call for the publication of a report into the 2012 IT meltdown was redundant, as the relevant report was in fact published last year.

The bank also claimed it was inaccurate for the committee to assert "that no bank is headquartered in Belfast".

It said that while Ulster is part of the Edinburgh-based RBS group, Ulster Bank Ltd is registered and based in Belfast.

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