ICMSA President calls on Oireachtas finance Committee to ascertain the basis for 1900 AIB ‘write-offs’.
The President of ICMSA, the state’s dairy farmer organisation, has called on the Oireachtas finance committee due to hear AIB’s account of the 90% ‘write-offs’ given to some 1900 borrowers to ascertain – on behalf of the taxpayers who then owned the bank – the basis and criteria for those particular debts to be written off.
Anticipating a growing level of dissatisfaction with the bank’s explanations so far, Pat McCormack said that it was not going to be good enough for bank executives to ‘wave away’ very legitimate questions about how AIB had selected those borrowers lucky enough to have their outstanding debts effectively written off. The ICMSA President said that in the farming sector, his association was aware of numerous cases where AIB had aggressively moved to take possession of lands and property that had been offered as security for loans on which individual farmers had defaulted. Quite aside from the notably aggressive stance taken by these main banks to act on those farms and properties provided as security, Mr. McCormack also noted the very unproblematic way in which pillar lenders – including AIB – had sold ‘problem loans’ onto so-called ‘Vulture funds’. Why, he wondered, was this option not considered for these lucky 1900 borrowers?
Mr. McCormack said that in normal circumstances, any bank would be able to retreat behind a plea that such information was ‘commercially sensitive’ and assert that it was the bank’s decision alone on who was, or was not, to be extended a loan ‘write-off’. But it was as well to remind everyone – and specifically AIB – that the circumstances that applied a decade ago were categorically not ‘normal’ and that the State – and through the State the Irish taxpayers – were ultimately the party extending these write-offs as decided upon by AIB management.
“Every taxpayer in Ireland was an owner of AIB and was therefore the party extending those write-offs. ICMSA thinks that – in that capacity – we are entitled to know on what basis the management in AIB decided who got those 90% or whatever write-offs. More importantly, who didn’t get those write-offs and why? And I’m asking for the hundreds of farmers who we have worked with and who have had to defend their farms and homes from ‘Vulture’ funds and who are still – a decade later – working through the courts to restructure debts that are usually much less than €9.7 million”, said Mr. McCormack.
“Doubtless there will be a good, sound and rational basis for all those 1900 decisions. And I and the hundreds of thousands of citizens who effectively owned the bank at that time, look forward to hearing them explained”, he said.
Ends 2 March 2023
Pat McCormack, 087-7608958
Cathal MacCarthy, 087-6168758
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