Paschal Donohoe in plan to regulate vulture funds

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe is expected to bring proposals to regulate vulture funds who buy up mortgages to Cabinet this week.

Paschal Donohoe in plan to regulate vulture funds

With Permanent TSB set to sell 18,000 loans in the coming months, the Government has come under intense pressure to address the unregulated funds.

Ulster Bank has also indicated its intention to sell up to 7,000 loans.

Fianna Fáil said the Government must now state clearly to PTSB that it is strongly opposed to the sale of the €3.7bn portfolio.

Mr Donohoe is working to find a solution to the issue of vulture funds before Fianna Fáil brings a bill before the Dáil on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, chair of the Oireachtas Finance Committee John McGuinness has hit out at PTSB for refusing to appear before it tomorrow.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan yesterday said a number of people were “in tears” in his constituency office on Friday over fears their homes will be sold off to vultures.

“We don’t know who is buying the mortgages,” said Mr Flanagan. “There have been emotive terms such as vultures and vipers and lots of fear. I would have to say that there are real fears in communities. I believe this issue must be resolved.

“But there are legal agreements in place here and it’s important to note that the terms and conditions of a mortgage document cannot be unilaterally changed by a vulture fund or any other bank. There are legal protections. That will not change irrespective of who buys these loans. It’s important that we addressed this issue in a calm and measured way.

“I expect that Minister Donohoe will not only be briefing cabinet on Tuesday but will be bringing forward some proposals.”

Fianna Fáil TD Jim O’Callaghan said it is “regrettable” that the opposition is providing leadership and not the Government.

“We still don’t know what the Government opinion is on the sale of PTSB,” he said.

“The Government, I know, doesn’t have a veto over the sale but it does have opinion on it and that’s the type of leadership that will have an impact on PTSB and more importantly will have an impact on any other credit institution that are thinking of selling on their loans.”

Sinn Féin’s Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire said regulation of vulture funds alone will not solve the problem.

“It’s absolutely the case that the banks PSTB and Ulster Bank could work though these non-performing mortgages themselves,” he told RTÉ’s The Week in Politics. “These banks can work with these mortgages owners and find a resolution.”

Separately, PTSB has declined a request to answer questions at the Finance Committee tomorrow.

Mr McGuinness said:”We are concerned about that because the decision of selling those loans onwards is in the process now, so we are running out of time. We want to get a breakdown of the 18,000 mortgages that they are about to sell. We are now at a tipping point.”

He said the Government needs to make it clear whether it is on the side of the banks or the people.

Ulster Bank has also declined to say whether it will accept an invitation to appear before the committee.

CEO Gerry Mallon said: “If we receive another invitation, we will consider it. We will make whatever we think is the right decision for Ulster Bank in order for it to be able to fulfil its duties.”

Mortgage rights campaigner David Hall said Ulster Bank’s strategy of sending figures other than Mr Mallon was “contemptible but not surprising”.

“There is an inherent disrespect of the public, so why would banks treat an Oireachtas committee any differently?” he said. “Bankers think they are more important than anyone else.””

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