Not a single vulture has been authorised under new legislation - Pearse Doherty TD
Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has said not a single credit servicing firm has been authorised under 2015 legislation that was meant to regulate the vultures and their middle men.
The information was confirmed to him in a parliamentary reply from Minister Noonan.
Speaking today Deputy Doherty said:
“When this legislation was brought in we were told it would regulate and put manners on the vulture funds. I expressed my disappointment at the time that the government flip flopped and took the wrong option by choosing to regulate only the middle men - the so called ‘credit servicing firms’. The actual owners of the loans remained untouched.
“Now, 18 months after the legislation was passed, we learn that none of these firms have been authorised by the Central Bank. Instead they are benefitting from transitional provisions that allow them to carry on while their application is being looked at by the Central Bank. That is simply unacceptable.
“They are allowed write letters seeking to repossess homes or demand that a tenant move out simply because they were doing that before this regime came into force. We can criticise light touch regulation but the current situation is closer to no regulation at all.
“The Central Bank needs to start making decisions fast and the government needs to look again at the way vultures are still running rings around them. I will soon be bringing forward legislation that will regulate the owner and not just the middle man.”
Parliamentary Question follows:
QUESTION NO: 114
DÁIL QUESTION addressed to the Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan)
by Deputy Pearse Doherty
for WRITTEN ANSWER on 16/02/2017
To ask the Minister for Finance the number of credit servicing firms that have completed the authorisation process following the passing of the 2015 credit servicing legislation; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
As the Deputy will be aware, the Consumer Protection (Regulation of Credit Servicing Firms) Act, 2015 was enacted in July 2015. It was introduced to fill the consumer protection gap where loans were sold by the original lender to an unregulated firm. The Act introduced a regulatory regime for a new type of entity called a 'credit servicing firm'. Credit Servicing Firms are now subject to the provisions of Irish financial services law that apply to 'regulated financial service providers'.
Following the enactment of the Consumer Protection (Regulation of Credit Servicing Firms) Act 2015, the Central Bank focused on developing a robust regime for this new category of regulated firm. The objective was to ensure that borrowers whose loans are transferred from a regulated lender have the same level of consumer protections they had prior to the sale under the various statutory codes issued by the Central Bank.
The Central Bank has developed detailed Authorisation Requirements and Standards for credit servicing firms which set appropriately high requirements on applicant firms. These include requirements on how these firms deal with their loan owner in order to ensure that borrowers receive the full protections of Irish financial services legislation, including Central Bank codes.
I understand that the Central Bank is currently putting applicant firms through its application process to ensure that only firms that demonstrate compliance with these authorisation standards are authorised.
A register of those applicant firms who have notified the Central Bank that they wish to avail of the transitional provisions provided for in the legislation (whereby, by virtue of the Act, they are taken to be authorised to carry on the business of a credit servicing firm pending a decision on their application by the Central Bank) is available on the Central Bank website. No firms have been granted an authorisation to date but it is worth highlighting that the full requirements of Irish financial services legislation (including Central Bank codes) apply to these firms.