Following a meeting with the Central Bank, ICMSA has confirmed that that the Bank has agreed to consider issuing a specific guidance document to assist farmers whose loans have been acquired by so-called ‘Vulture Funds. The farm organisation had specifically requested the meeting to raise what its President, John Comer, described as the “deep concern” felt by those farmers who had discovered – and usually only after the fact – that their loans and farm finance arrangements had been sold or otherwise transferred by regulated banks operating in Ireland to often faceless and unknown finance companies, commonly known as ‘Vulture Funds’. Mr Comer said that huge disquiet had been caused by these situations where farm financing and loans had been arbitrarily classified as ‘distressed’ and sold on – often at very significant unknown discounts – to these specialist finance companies who, it was felt, operated on a business model that was radically different to that used by traditional banking.
The ICMSA President said that farmers felt that traditional banks in many cases want and understand farm business and have a vested interest in a farmer working his or her way through a distressed loan. He noted that this is most assuredly not the situation for some of these anonymous ‘Vulture Funds’ who seem to operate on the basis that the sooner they can finalise a loan the better it is for them. Mr. Comer said these funds do not seem to have the same concern for keeping clients going through what may be temporary difficulty and the suspicion is that, quite often, they’re looking for an opportunity to compound the problems being experienced by the farmers in question.
Mr. Comer concluded by saying that while ICMSA is very aware of the regulatory limits of a guidance document, it’s a start and a step in the right direction that will at least show some of these new arrivals that a certain standard is expected of them and where they fall short of those standards, ICMSA will very promptly draw the attention of the relevant authorities to that shortfall. Farmers need to know their rights in this regard and ICMSA is confident that the Central Bank will implement this proposal.
Ends 14 March 2017.
John Comer, 087-2057846
Cathal MacCarthy, 087-6168758
ICMSA Press Office