Jubilee Debt Campaign Birmingham

Rachel Stephens reports from the House of Commons

Posted on: February 2, 2009

A standing room only meeting in Committee Room 15 heard speakers from USA and UK offer legal ways of controlling Vulture houses-of-parliamentFund activity. We heard Adam Smith said “ The criterion for a successful market is Transparency”. Vulture funds thrive on the anonymity of Directors operating from secrecy jurisdictions (Tax Havens). Enforced exposure through international legislation and refusal to allow UK and USA courts to be used for their actions, against the poorest countries, will destroy them. We must ensure this legislation to eliminate Vulture funds preying on the poorest.

Currently Vulture Funds may be set up secretly by one director to pursue a debtor state and to operate from any one of the many secrecy jurisdictions, as with Donegal International based in British Virgin Islands eventually revealed as directed by a Mr Steen. BVI operates through UK courts and Steen used them to profiteer from his court actions against Zambia for debts which, through HIPC ,had already been renegotiated with the other creditors and cancelled. This case has alerted campaigning groups and on August 1st 2008 the ‘ Stop the Vulture Funds Act’ was introduced in USA Senate. If passed this will cap amounts reclaimed, to the sum actually paid for the debt + 6% per annum Interest; it will enforce disclosures on Directors names and locations and certification that no bribes were paid for collusion.

Legislation is possible here; tax payers will no longer have to give tax relief to Banks on such debt repayments. Exposure of identities of the Vulture Fund directors and transparent dealing with international financial institutions could undermine the capacity of these extortionists to profiteer at the expense of the poorest. Three action points for MPs are given in “Time to tame the Vultures” JDC Jan 2009. ‘We can do this; so write to your MP asking them to support this legislation!

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