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U-Turn By Ulster Bank Boss After IT Meltdown

(c) Sky News 2012

The boss of Ulster Bank has done a U-turn and announced he was turning down this year's annual bonus, after a computer meltdown affected thousands of customers.

Chief executive Jim Brown also pledged an independent inquiry into the IT collapse last month which affected customers across Ireland (Xetra: A0Q8L3 - news) .

He promised nobody would be left out of pocket by the incident and said 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, last night Mr Brown said he would not be taking it.

The move comes as the bank admits customers and businesses face a fourth week of problems with their accounts.

Ulster Bank is part of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group, and along with NatWest struggled to maintain consumer trust following the massive technical glitch that last longer than a week.

RBS (LSE: RBS.L - news) head Stephen Hester last week announced he would not be taking his bonus because of the bank-wide disaster but Ulster Bank's problems have continued beyond the return to service speed of both RBS and NatWest.

Ulster Bank started a Twitter account but it remained virtually inactive until Friday morning, when customer relations started to send out a flurry of tweets to aggrieved customers. Some had complained of not receiving salary payments for several weeks.

Messages indicated that although the bank had resumed normal service for recent transactions, some of those in late June and early July were still delayed.

One bank tweet said: "We're still working through payments between 27/06 and 03/07, payments after 03/07 may appear as normal."

But the bank has been unable to provide customers with a guarantee that the account chaos will be finished by a certain date.

A statement on its website on Friday said: "It is our expectation that by the week of the 16th of July the vast majority of customers will return to a normal service.

"There may be some final reconciliations required to customers' accounts."

Mr Brown promised to overcome the problems and 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."

His U-turn followed calls from politicians the North and south 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 later told an Irish parliament committee the figure was 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.

Northern Ireland's Finance Minister Sammy Wilson told Sky News the delay had been caused by the large backlog of transactions that had built up while the initial glitch was fixed.

He said: "Technically the problem started with RBS, then moved to NatWest, then moved to Ulster Bank.

"It had to be fixed in that sequence, but because Ulster Bank were at the very end, they had the biggest backlog of historic transactions and it's really getting the historic transactions back on to the system which has caused the problem."