Saturday 19 January 2019

Mortgage sales defended by Central Bank

Central Bank’s Ed Sibley
Central Bank’s Ed Sibley
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

The controversial sale of distressed loans by banks here has been defended by a senior Central Bank official.

Sales of residential mortgages have generated heated debate, particularly when they are sold to vulture funds.

Deputy governor of the Central Bank Ed Sibley said that the sale of distressed loans by banks was both "legitimate and necessary".

Referring to dysfunction in the mortgage market, he said in a speech to the Institute of Banking that elevated levels of non-performing loans made the banks highly vulnerable to future economic shocks.

"Portfolio sales are a legitimate and necessary approach for banks to use to address non-performing mortgage loans.

"The continued high level of non-performing loans makes banks highly vulnerable to future economic downturns, from both the existing non-performing loans, and potentially new defaults. "While all the Irish retail banks are significantly better capitalised than pre-2008, they are more vulnerable than those without this legacy to future economic shocks," Mr Sibley said.

Billions of euro of loan portfolios are up for sale at the moment, with most expected to go to unregulated vulture funds.

Permanent TSB, Ulster Bank and AIB are in the process of selling non-performing loan books.

It is expected that the buyers of the portfolios will not be directly regulated by the Central Bank.

Mr Sibley said the Central Bank has ensured that the consumer protections, including the code of conduct on mortgage arrears, travel with the loans. Worries over the attitude of buyers of Irish loan portfolios to distressed borrowers prompted Fianna Fáil to introduce a Bill to the Dáil in February, seeking to have the vulture funds regulated by the Central Bank.

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