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Thursday 22 March 2018

Anglo turns screw on professionals in debt

Nationalised bank threatens borrowers with county sheriff


ANGLO Irish Bank has upped the ante in its efforts to recover millions of euro it loaned to members of Ireland's professional class during the boom, with threats of judgments and action by county sheriffs now routinely being sent out, even where repayment agreements are being adhered to by borrowers.

The Sunday Independent has seen copies of correspondence from the bank's solicitors sent to one businessman, where the immediate repayment of a loan of over €1m has been demanded.

Expressing surprise at the demands now being made, the businessman explained how he and others within his professional social circle who had borrowed from Anglo and had -- with the express agreement of the bank itself -- been making interest-only payments on time and without fail each month.

"I looked for the loan on a Wednesday and they gave me the full amount on the Friday," he said.

"It has been interest-only for years now and I've made the payments every month.

"I could understand if they had come to me and said it was time to start repaying on the principal. But now they're looking for the whole lot in one go."

Asked for comment on this and other cases where Anglo Irish Bank -- which is now known by its new name of the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC) -- is seeking an immediate and full repayment of loans, a spokeswoman for the bank said: "The bank will not comment on the specific circumstances of individual borrowers.

"The IBRC works collaboratively and on a case-by- case basis with borrowers and is in a constant process of engagement with each individual client."

Separately, sources at Anglo attempted to play down the concerns of the businessman in relation to the bank's move against him and others within his circle, saying that there hadn't been any recent or specific increase in correspondence with borrowers "above and beyond the normal level of engagement".

But whatever letters Anglo might be sending to its clients promising judgments and visits from the county sheriff, the experience of the sheriff himself suggests that there is less and less to be gained from such action as the recession drags on.

Speaking to the Sunday Independent this weekend, Dublin County Sheriff John FitzPatrick said there were now far fewer demands being made of his office from the banks to seize assets from delinquent borrowers.

"I think they have found that there isn't much point," he said. "When all of this first blew up, we were getting massive stuff in from banks.

"I had one for €10m against one man and one for €23m against another, but that has died now. The guy that I went to for the €23m, he owed something like €150m. We took his Range Rover and his Jaguar, but sure that's only a drop in the ocean.

"Then we had the likes of Breifne O'Brien, who owed millions. We got something like €250,000. I'd say the banks have copped on and thought: 'What's the point of all this?'"

Mr Fitzpatrick said many of the valuables that his office might look to seize when executing a court order were often already gone from a debtor's premises by the time he and his men showed up.

"You can go in and get a whole heap of valuable paintings, but a lot of this stuff had disappeared. By the time the banks had gone to court and got the order, the stuff had disappeared," he added.

Sunday Independent

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