I have raised this issue on foot of the problems people are encountering in the context of so-called sub-prime mortgages. We are all aware of the general difficulties experienced by people whose mortgages are in arrears as a result of unemployment and reductions in income. These difficulties are greatly exacerbated in the case of certain lenders who charge huge interest rates, impose massive penalties on people who are in arrears and resort to legal proceedings to obtain possession of properties even in circumstances where they have been presented with reasonable offers of repayment.
The lenders to whom I refer should not be allowed to continue to lend money. One such lender is a certain Mr. Weisz, who has been already convicted of a breach of section 27 of the Central Bank Act 1971. His offence related to the illegal solicitation of deposits and was a breach not only of the Central Bank Act but also of the terms of the only licence held by the company, which was issued in the UK. This fact alone should warrant an investigation on the part of Revenue. We also have information relating to the fact that numerous deposits were made to the personal bank account of Mr. Weisz and his wife, Fiona, and not to that of the Wise Finance Company.
Concerns in respect of this matter were raised in the House in 1999. The then Minister, Mary Harney, attempted to tighten up the legislation relating to lenders of this kind. Unfortunately, a number of loopholes still remain.
Mr. Weisz signed an affidavit in the High Court on 28 September 2004 in which he stated that the plaintiff company was a mortgage lender within the meaning of the Consumer Credit Act 1995, when the only licence the company ever held was one issued by the Office of Fair Trading in England. This licence allowed for the granting of credit by non-deposit taking finance houses and other specialist consumer credit guarantors. Said licence lapsed on 25 May 2004, over four months earlier. I am sure Mr. Weisz was well aware of that fact at the time.