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Thursday 14 December 2017

ACC faces 400 lawsuits over Solid World bond products

Dearbhail McDonald Legal Editor

ACC Bank is now facing more than 400 lawsuits from disgruntled Irish investors who purchased its Solid World bond product, the Irish Independent has learnt.

The Dutch-owned bank, which rose to prominence last year for its pursuit of developer Liam Carroll, has been hit with 404 High Court actions since January.

A further nine actions were lodged late last year, according to records held in the Central Office of the High Court.

The tranche of litigation is one of the largest multi-party actions to come before the courts in relation to financial products and is expected to be case-managed by the High Court, owing to the huge volume of cases.

ACC's borrow-to-invest Solid World Bond schemes were hugely popular among Irish investors in 2003 and 2004 and an estimated €650m worth of the geared tracker bonds were sold here. But investors, whose capital was guaranteed, have now turned to the courts because of the poor performance of the bonds and the costs of servicing their borrowings to invest in them which, they claim, have led to losses because of interest payments and bank commission fees.

Brokers and investment intermediaries who sold the ACC bonds have also been joined as co-defendants in many of the actions, and more than a dozen investors have made formal complaints to the Financial Services Ombudsman.

However, it is understood that those complaints against ACC, which is owned by Rabobank, have not been upheld by the ombudsman.

Average investor

The average investor borrowed €200,000 from ACC to invest in its Solid World bond products, according to solicitor David Coleman, whose Dublin firm Lavelle Coleman is representing more than half of the litigants to date.

For its part, ACC said: "The bank is aware of the proceedings that have been issued against it but have not yet been served on the bank.

"Accordingly, the bank is as yet unaware of the precise nature of the claims being made in those proceedings and has not yet delivered a defence.

"Neither is the bank in a position to confirm the number of cases or to comment upon the approach it will take."

Irish Independent

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