AIB Belfry Review, updated Sept 2023

Belfry-DLWith some foresight, many Irish Investors are sorry they didn’t ponder a little longer over the word ‘Belfry’. This is a bell-tower, or part of a tower or steeple in which bells are hung. It may obliquely have represented a warning bell.

The AIB Belfry Review (of 2nd to 6th Funds, in particular) is now a major financial debacle that initially involved over 2,500 negatively impacted investors (who invested more than €120M, between 2002 and 2006). This long festering fiasco predates the Tracker Mortgage-related compensation scheme.

The Bank tried to evade responsibility through defending legal proceedings, (that commenced in 2014) though the time-barring of fraud claims against it under the Statute of Limitations. However, in 2020 the Supreme Court disarmed this, in place of ‘a sensible and pragmatic approach’.

“On consent, the allegations of fraudulent concealment made against the defendants were withdrawn as part of the settlement last year, the High Court heard at the time.”

Some of these highly geared (i.e., involving back-to-back Borrowings by an intermediary investment vehicle) Investment Transactions anecdotally involved negligent mis-selling, wrongful disclosure in Prospectuses, conflict of interests, fraudulently manipulated file documents on appetite-for-risk inter alia. Although designated ‘Medium-risk’, they were ‘High-risk’.

It is already clear that the Belfry Scheme is similar, in part to the Bank’s Tracker Redress Scheme, in so far as processing cases is like ‘pulling teeth, in slow motion’ with negligible account taken of the dimensions of (a) the Time-Value-of-money, (b) Opportunity Costs and(c) Consequential losses, inter alia.

There is an apparent reluctance for the Financial Regulator to oversee this Scheme, (unlike its establishment & oversight of the Tracker Mortgage Redress Scheme). In several cases initially reviewed, it is clear that key documents are missing from the Bank files. This has potentially serious implications under GDPR and Consumer Protection Code’ regulations.

An investor may disagree with the initial AIB Belfry Review outcome. However, AIB’s internal reassessment process ‘challenges’ still-aggrieved Investors to produce Fresh Documentation that can be considered by (i) its Internal Reassessment, (ii) members of its allegedly ‘Independent’ Appeals panel, then (iii) by the FSPO, and ultimately (iv) by the Courts.

AIB is deliberately creating a false impression (in true Catch22-style) that a dissatisfied Investor must produce new, relevant key documents to qualify for a fresh reassessment of his/her Claim.