Vulture Funds: Newsnight investigation and debate in parliament
Vulture funds featured in a Newsnight investigation by Greg Palast shown on 25 February 2010. Vulture funds buy up the debt of very poor countries cheaply and then sue for 10 or even 100 times what they paid for it. Greg Palast travelled to Liberia to see the poverty of the people and to the USA to try to confront some of the vultures themselves. One company was so anxious to avoid an interview that they removed their nameplate and pretended not to be there. He also stood outside the court in London that decided in November 2009 in favour of a vulture fund at the expense of Liberia and its people.
Vulture funds were debated in the UK parliament on Friday 26 Feb. 2010. The bill to control vulture funds passed its second reading. It was strongly supported by Labour and Liberal Democrats. David Gauke, Conservative Treasury spokesman, expressed some concerns and said that he could not support rushing the bill through. When pressed by a Liberal Democrat he would not give a commitment to tackling the issue if the Conservatives form a government after the general election.
The president of Liberia was one of those urging MPs to control these companies. Liberia in west Africa is one of the world's poorest countries.
An Early Day Motion, EDM 618: Vulture Funds, has been tabled by Andrew Gwynne MP. It has attracted strong support with 216 MPs signing by 30 March 2010. Has your MP signed?
You can find out more about vulture funds from the Jubilee Debt Campaign.
See about an amusing stunt outside the offices of Dechert, a law firm that has provided services to vulture funds to help them to exploit some of the poorest people on the planet. The Jubilee Debt Campaign ran a cake stall, giving away home-made cakes and leaflets. They wanted the employees to know what Dechert was getting up to while claiming to have high ethical standards. Dechert is an international law firm with offices throughout the USA, Europe and Asia. Dechert is a member of Advocates for International Development and has sponsored a conference in New York on global ethics.
Dechert joined in the consultation by the government about the issue of vulture funds. They argued against legislation to control vulture funds and they even had the cheek to claim that the Human Rights Act protects the rights of the vultures.
Update, 1 April 2010: Stop feeding the vultures, writes Greg Palast.
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.