Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Questions (110)

Seamus Kirk

Question:

110. Deputy Seamus Kirk asked the Minister for Finance if he will consider tightening the regulations on the extent and nature of advertising in which moneylenders may engage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31912/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

Moneylenders are licensed by the Central Bank of Ireland in accordance with the provisions of Part VIII of the Consumer Credit Act 1995 (as amended). Moneylenders have to apply to the Central Bank each year for renewal of their licences. In addition to the provisions of the Consumer Credit Act 1995, a licensed moneylender must comply with the provisions of the Consumer Protection Code for Licensed Moneylenders and with the European Communities (Consumer Credit Agreements) Regulations 2010. Licensed moneylenders must comply with the following specific provisions with regard to advertising: Chapter 3 of the Moneylenders Code, Regulation 4 (1) and Regulation 7 of the Regulations, and Part II of the Act. Compliance with these pieces of legislation is monitored on an ongoing basis through a robust annual licensing process, ongoing supervision, themed inspections, mystery shops, consumer intelligence and complaints from the Financial Services Ombudsman. Failure to adhere to the provisions may lead to proceedings under our Administrative Sanctions Procedures, which enable us to sanction and to fine regulated entities for breaches of regulatory requirements.

Since 1 December 2011, licensed moneylenders are also subject to a new fitness and probity regime. The ML Code sets out General Principles with which a moneylender must comply. For example, a moneylender must act honestly and professionally, with due skill, care and diligence in the best interest of consumers. Chapter 3 of the ML Code places specific requirements on moneylenders in relation to the contents and presentation of advertisements. The main areas covered by Chapter 3 of the ML Code require moneylenders to ensure advertisements are fair and not misleading, clearly understood, complete and accurate. The Central Bank deals with regulated entities, including moneylenders, where there are concerns around the fairness, clarity, accuracy and potential for an advertisement to be construed as misleading in their overall content and presentation and actively follows up on any issues identified. For example, where key information in relation to a product or service in advertisements is not sufficiently prominent and is included in smaller print to other parts of the advertisement, the Central Bank will address this with the individual entity.