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Jersey announces plans to crack down on vulture funds

Jersey Chief Minister Ian Gorst is proposing to introduce legislation to limit vulture funds profiteering on debt claims from some of the world’s poorest countries.

US vulture fund FG Hemisphere is currently suing the Democratic Republic of Congo for $100 million in the Jersey courts on a debt it bought for just $3 million.[1] The final appeal in the case is expected to be heard in the next few months. The debt originally comes from loans to Congolese dictator General Mobutu during the Cold War.

Jubilee Debt Campaign understands that the proposed legislation will follow a UK Act of Parliament introduced in 2010, which limits debt claims against forty impoverished countries in line with internationally agreed debt relief. It only applies to debts which originate prior to 2004, and does not cover all low income countries.

Jubilee Debt Campaign Policy Officer Tim Jones said:
“This is an important step, but the States of Jersey need to implement the bill urgently to prevent a vulture fund claiming $100 million from the Democratic Republic of Congo, one of the most impoverished countries in the world.

“Vulture funds buy up debt cheaply then hold out for huge profits from many countries, as the people of Greece are now finding to their cost. Jersey should act to stop vultures funds profiteering from all countries for good.”

The UK Treasury estimates the UK Debt Relief (Developing Countries) Act passed in 2010 will save some of the most impoverished countries £145 million over six years.[2]

There is evidence vulture fund speculators have been buying up Greek debt at a low price, and are refusing to take part in write-downs of the debt, holding out for large profits. Recent estimates have suggested that speculators could account for as much as €50 billion of Greek debt, and that companies have bought debt at a price suggesting a 75 per cent chance of default. [3]

For more information or interviews contact Tim Jones on 020 7324 4725 or 07817 628196

Notes

[1] http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/2011/nov/15/vulture-funds-jersey-decision

[2] http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/press_50_11.htm

[3] Der Spiegel ‘Doubts Grow over Greek Debt Restructuring’, by Sven Boll, Martin Hesse and Julia Amalia Heyer, 9 January 2012

Bloomberg ‘Hedge funds try to profit from Greece debt swap’ by Jesse Westbrook and Julie Cruz, 12 January 2012

Reuters ‘Hedge funds lock horns with IMF on Greek debt’ 10 January 2012


Countries

Jersey, Congo, Democratic Republic Of
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