Central Bank Tells Irish CUs to Limit Lending

September 13, 2011 •  By Michelle A. Samaad * CU Times

The Credit Union Managers’ Association said it is receiving letters from credit unions saying the Central Bank of Ireland has told them to restrict their lending.

The bank’s new rules caps some credit unions at a maximum monthly lending limit of 100,000 Euros or approximately $127,650 in U.S. dollars.

Nearly 300 CUs have been told to restrict their lending, according to CUMA. The trade group said it has contacted the Central Bank about its concerns with the new rules.

CUMA representative Selina Gilleece said while credit unions have been affected by Ireland’s recession, “they have weathered the worst of it so far.”

James O’Brien, Central Bank’s registrar of credit unions, told attendees at the bank’s annual Credit Union Regulatory Forums this year the regulator has grown concerned with the number of credit unions experiencing investment losses in their portfolios.

“Falling income, a static cost base and downward pressure on dividends are all indicators that the sector remains under significant stress. An increasing number of credit unions have migrated into the high-risk category and are on our supervisory watch list,” O’Brien said.

One of Ireland’s newspapers reported that Jimmy Johnstone, president of the Irish League of Credit Unions, sent a letter to the Central Bank criticizing the new limits. The league is a member of the World Council of Credit Unions.

“The league board, like its member credit unions, is exasperated by the imposition of far-reaching regulatory restrictions which are directly responsible for credit unions not being able to lend to long-standing members,” Johnstone wrote.