Tuesday 11 December 2018

PTSB chief Masding accused of being 'uncaring' over selling mortgages to vulture funds

PTSB chief executive Jeremy Masding
PTSB chief executive Jeremy Masding
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

STATE-owned Permanent TSB was accused of lacking care and respect for its customers when it appeared before the Oireachtas Finance Committee.

Chief executive Jeremy Masding was asked why his bank was selling family homes to vulture funds when both AIB and Bank of Ireland were not selling residential properties.

The bank was answering questions on the controversial sale of 10,000 mortgages, which has been labelled Project Glas by Permanent TSB.

The loans are being sold to US fund Lone Star and its affiliate Start Mortgages, which is regulated here as a retail credit firm.

Sinn Féin finance spokesman Pearse Doherty accused the bank of being uncaring and lacking respect for its mortgage holders who are in financial difficulties.

He put a case to the bank of a customer who has cancer. She had gone without fuel to meet her repayments for 19 years, but was unable to keep making payments earlier this year.

Her arrears hit €1,800, but days after being told she had cancer the bank wrote to her to tell her that her mortgage was being sold to a vulture fund.

“How can you sit there with a straight face and say the bank offers respect and care to customers when are clearly selling them off to the vultures?”

Mr Doherty added: “What you are doing is wrong and no other bank is doing what you are doing. AIB is not selling family homes and Bank of Ireland is not selling family homes.”

The TD accused the bank of taking the easy way out, and said it should be working with customers in default to help them work through the arrears problem.

Mr Masding responded that he had avoided repossessing properties which would be much worse than selling the loans.

He said his brief was to do the right thing by the Irish taxpayer. The bank is 75pc owned by the State.

Mr Masding defended the bank’s decision to sell off non-performing loans – including 7,400 home mortgages – to a so-called vulture fund.

The sale is a “critical part” of the bank’s strategy to meet strict regulations about the number of non-performing loans (NPLs) on its books, noting that even without the strict rules it is the right avenue to pursue.

“Non-performing loans make the bank less secure; less able to compete; less able to grow or prosper; and, less able to lend to new customers – the bank has reduced the number of NPLs by 40pc since 2013,” Mr Masding told TDs and senators in the Oireachtas.

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