Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Questions (485)

Tony McLoughlin

Question:

485. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to introduce legislative change in the area of illegal money lenders since it is considered that current legislation prevents the vigorous pursuit of illegal money lenders; and if he will liaise closely with the credit union movement who are represented in most local areas to ensure that some form of debt solutions can be formulated with the support of some State agencies. [12917/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

With regard to the issue of illegal money lending it may be helpful if I briefly set out the measures currently in place governing money lending generally. Legislative provisions relating to the regulation of money lending are provided for in the Consumer Credit Act 1995, which is the responsibility of the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.

The regulation of licensed money lending is a matter primarily for my colleague, the Minister for Finance and the Central Bank of Ireland is the competent authority in this jurisdiction with regard to licensed money lending activity. Under the 1995 Act unlicensed money lending is an offence. Persons who engage in money lending and who do not hold the necessary licence granted by the Central Bank are committing an offence under section 98 of the Act. A person found guilty of an offence is liable on conviction on indictment, to a fine not exceeding €100,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 5 years or both.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation acts as a liaison point between An Garda Síochána and the Office of the Director of Consumer Affairs with regard to investigations of unlicensed money lending. I am further informed that all allegations of unlicensed money lending are investigated by An Garda Síochána at local level, with the assistance of the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation, where necessary.

As I have said previously, I would strongly encourage those who may have information concerning the operation of unlicensed money lenders to notify An Garda Síochána who will take all measures open to them to enforce the law in this area. I can assure the Deputy that where there is any identified requirement for additional legislative provisions in aid of An Garda Síochána's powers under the Consumer Credit Act 1995, I will not hesitate in bringing proposals to the attention of my colleague the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.

The Deputy will appreciate that responsibilities in this area arise for a number of Departments. Insofar as my Department has a role in this area and in the context of the investigation of illegal money lending, I would, of course, consider any views which the credit union movement put forward.

Question No. 486 answered with Question No. 467.