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Business and Homeowners must be protected from Vulture Funds – Conway-Walsh

12 January, 2017 - by Rose Conway-Walsh

The Central Bank must use its consumer protection remit to protect small businesses and homeowners who find that their loans have been sold to vulture funds, according to Sinn Féin Senator Rose Conway-Walsh.

Senator Conway-Walsh, a member of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Finance, said:

“Tens of billions worth of loans were sold off banks at knock-down prices to unregulated vulture funds. It is appalling that business owners and home owners were not afforded an opportunity to buy the loans at the discounted prices which were given to these vulture funds.  The banks turned to the people when they needed to be rescued to the tune of €64 billion but they have turned their backs on the people now that they have got what they wanted.  This is where the Government and the Central Bank need to step in.

“To add insult to injury, many of these businesses were put under unbearable pressure by demands, penalties and interest from revenue.  Yet, these vulture funds have been facilitated to avoid paying up to €350 million tax each year since 2014 using the section 110 loophole.  I raised this issue with Michael Noonan on 26th June 2015 but failed to get an answer.  How this Government, and indeed successive governments, can get away with the unequal and unfair taxation treatment of indigenous businesses as opposed to the treatment of foreign companies is repulsive.

“Several of these vulture funds have been requested to come before the Finance Committee.  We are still awaiting an answer.  Meanwhile, lenders are left with uncertainty as to who owns or may end up owning the deeds to their home or business.  The Government must legislate to regulate the owners of hedge funds operating in this jurisdiction and must put in place the necessary expertise to assist and support lenders to legally challenge the validity of the sell-off of their loan agreements.”

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