Wednesday 15 August 2018

ECB boss has no problem with tougher rules for funds

ECB President Mario Draghi. Photo: REUTERS
ECB President Mario Draghi. Photo: REUTERS

Kevin Doyle and Cormac McQuinn

President of the European Central Bank Mario Draghi has indicated he will not present any blockage to legislation regulating so-called vulture funds.

EU rules have been blamed for Permanent TSB's decision to offload 18,000 'non-performing' mortgages.

But Mr Draghi said it is necessary for banks to improve their books in order to ensure they have adequate funds for new lending to business.

Under questioning from Fine Gael MEP Brain Hayes, Mr Draghi said non-performing loans (NPLs) need to be treated the same in all eurozone countries.

At the same time he said the EU would not oppose further regulation at member state level if its purpose is to strengthen consumer protection.

The Cabinet will today consider proposals from Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe and draft legislation that has been prepared by Fianna Fáil's Michael McGrath.

Mr Donohoe said the Government has a "robust legal and policy framework" in relation to NPLs.

He insisted there is a need to "strike a balance between home owners and the demands that our banking system can place upon them".

Pressed as to whether he will bring vulture funds under the remit of the Central Bank, as sought by Fianna Fáil, the minister replied: "I will ensure through any changes that we need to make that we have the strongest regulation possible in place in those bills and I will be working on deputy McGrath's bill to see how we can integrate his ideas into that."

Ministers will discuss the issue against the backdrop of PTSB's refusal to appear before the Oireachtas Finance Committee.

The bank's chief executive Jeremy Masding was invited to answer questions from TDs and senators, but had declined on the basis that PTSB is publishing its financial results on March 14.

Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness described the excuse used by the institution - which is 75pc owned by the State - as "outrageous".

"There's absolutely no reason why they shouldn't come before us," he said.

He said it is part of a broader trend of banks behaving in a "difficult manner".

A spokesman for PTSB said the bank has agreed to attend the committee at a later date.

He said it explained in a letter to the committee "that as we are currently in a closed period ahead of our financial results - due to be published on March 14 - we cannot attend until after that date".

The Labour Party's finance spokesperson Joan Burton said it was "ironic a bank that was bailed out by the public" is now refusing to engage.

"It should at least inform us of those loans it plans to sell, how many have not engaged at all and for how long, how many are failed restructures, and how many are performing restructured loans," she said.

Irish Independent

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