John McGuinness: Vulture funds' attitude 'aggressive' and 'unhelpful to those that have loans'

A Fianna Fáil TD has said his party should do whatever it takes to prevent Permanent TSB selling mortgages to vulture funds.

The bank has said that now is the “appropriate time” for it to offload around 18,000 distressed mortgages from its books.

Around 14,000 of the loans relate to private homes.

It has raised concerns that some of the loans being sold could potentially be bought by so-called 'vulture funds'.

The Oireachtas Finance Committee is to meet with Paschal Donohoe to discuss the impasse, after the Finance Minister indicated yesterday he would not block the sale.

The Department of Finance says PTSB needs to reduce its level of non-performing loans and that regulations are in place to protect mortgage holders.

Minister Donohoe said he is “very conscious” that there are people included in the sale who have already restructured their mortgages and may need to do so again, adding: “I am conscious of the worry that they will have.”

Fianna Fáil has led opposition to the proposed sale, saying banks "should be working through their loan books in the normal way".

The party has introduced a bill aiming to ensure that any fund that purchases mortgages must be regulated by the Central Bank.

Fianna Fáil's John McGuinness - who is head of the Oireachtas Finance Committee - disagreed with suggestions that customers will be protected even if their loans end up in the hands of vulture funds.

Deputy McGuinness observed: "I deal with vulture funds on a regular basis on behalf of clients, and I have to say that their attitude is aggressive, and is unhelpful to those that have loans.

"They refuse to cooperate with the borrowers, and we have seen from PTSB and other banks a reluctance to deal with the full suite of measures that might save a person in their own homes."

He dismissed suggestions that vulture funds are more willing to cut a deal than banks, repeating that they are 'uncooperative' in his experience.

He also argued: "The regulations are not there - it doesn't work, and the courts don't work. The opposition have to stand to the end, with the people on this.

"We're not talking about just 14,000 households - we're talking about that plus an awful lot more."

He agreed that the party should do 'whatever it takes' if the Government does not budge on the issue.

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