12,000 hit as online ad brokerage shuts office
AROUND 12,000 Irish investors face difficulties in getting their money back after an internet advertising brokerage experienced a "backlog" in processing payments.
Banners Broker, which has pulled the plug on its Irish support operation, has placed a $250 (€187) weekly limit on the amount investors can withdraw from their accounts.
It has around 12,000 Irish investors, some of whom paid thousands of euro to buy advertising space with Banners Broker acting as an intermediary.
Paul McCarthy, who until last month had a contract with the company to provide its training and support services in Ireland, said he had been inundated with calls from worried clients.
"I'm getting a lot of hassle at the moment. It's pretty crazy," he said.
The company is now directing Irish clients to contact its customer support centre in Belize in Central America. Efforts by the Irish Independent to contact that centre were unsuccessful.
Mr McCarthy, who is based in Cork, said 2013 has been "quite challenging" for the company.
"The way people used to get paid was through a pre-paid Mastercard, but Mastercard pulled the cards in March and that had a dramatic effect on the company. It means everything is delayed.
"Payments went out yesterday, but there is a big backlog. In some cases payments are backlogged by a few months. The company has put a limit (on withdrawals) of $250 per week per account," he added.
Despite his contract with Banners Broker now being terminated, and being forced to close his service centre in Cork city, Mr McCarthy said he was still trying to assist Irish clients.
"I leave my phone on because everyone used to ring the office. I'm doing the best I can, but it's pretty impossible to keep on top (of all the calls)."
He said, as part of a restructuring process, Banners Broker made a decision to close its support operations in various jurisdictions and centralise customer support in Belize.
However, he said the time difference between Ireland and Belize had meant some frustrated Irish clients had been unable to get the answers they were looking for.