Tuesday 20 March 2018

Courts put squeeze on debtors as Anglo moves hard on Quinn

Bank pursues €1.6bn action against ex-tycoon

Dearbhail McDonald, Legal Editor

Debtors were ordered by the courts to pay back almost €1bn in debt in the last four months alone -- and that's before last week's record €416m judgment against bankrupt businessman Sean Quinn.

This morning, Anglo Irish Bank, now known as the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC), is expected to obtain another €1.6bn judgment against the ex-tycoon, a move that would bring court-ordered debts into uncharted territory.

Figures compiled by BusinessPro, the publisher of debt weekly 'Stubbs Gazette', reveal that credit unions are now on a par with banks when it comes to chasing debtors in the courts.

In 2011, credit unions had 664 judgments registered, which is a 41pc increase on last year, when there was 470. This compares to 232 registered by state-owned banks and 432 by other banks.

Collectively, the state-owned and other banks had 664 judgments registered, which is on a par with the credit unions in terms of the number of actions.

The average judgment value for credit unions was €17,000.

Banks obtained judgments totalling some €526.7m between August and November of this year compared to €348.8m in the same period last year.

NAMA, the toxic loans agency, was initially slow to move against developers as it sought to work out business plans with debtors whose loans were transferred to it.


To date NAMA has secured €500m worth of judgments against nine developers, but BusinessPro has predicted that this will "escalate dramatically" over the next few years as 60pc of the NAMA loan book -- valued at €46.2bn -- is classified as non-performing.

"NAMA has yet to deal with the second- and third-tier developers whose loans are under €10m and some experts conclude that likely losses will amount to over €20bn," said James Treacy, managing director of BusinessProStubbs-Gazette.

"The amount is hard to conceptualise and when put into context equates to our annual budget for healthcare."

The Revenue Commissioners remain the most active creditor in the courts, obtaining almost €30m in court judgments between August and November of this year compared to €17.7m in the same period last year.

Revenue is now one of the main players in the bankruptcy division of the High Court as well as in debt actions.

Ireland's bankruptcy figures are traditionally low because of its severe consequences. Just eight people were declared bankrupt in 2008, but last year the number was 29.

The latest figures from BusinessPro were compiled before the IBRC moved to recover more than €2bn of debt it says it is owed by Mr Quinn.

The IBRC is seeking to revoke Mr Quinn's bankruptcy in Northern Ireland where bankrupts are free to go back into business after 12 months compared to the Republic's 12 years.

Last week, the official receiver in charge of Mr Quinn's bankruptcy in Northern Ireland said that he would not seek to delay a claim by the IBRC in the Commercial Court in Dublin in its efforts to obtain judgment against the Fermanagh-born businessman.

Today in the High Court, Mr Justice Peter Kelly will rule on the €1.6bn balance of the IBRC's claim against Mr Quinn.

Irish Independent

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