'Don't feed the vultures' say campaigners with cake sale stunt

'Don't feed the vultures' say campaigners with cake sale stunt

By staff writers
24 Feb 2010
Photo: Marcin Morawicki/Jubilee Debt Campaign

Global poverty campaigners staged a 'charity cake sale' this morning outside the London offices of a multinational law firm which represents ‘vulture funds’.

The stunt outside Dechert LLP was intended to raise money to help wean the company “off the unprincipled money they make through vulture cases”.

Vulture funds are companies that seek to profit by buying distressed debt belonging to companies or countries on the secondary market at a steep discount, then seeking to make a profit by claiming back the original debt and more.

The 'cake sale' came two days before Parliament is due to vote on legislation to curb the ability of vulture funds to sue through the British courts.

Last November, Dechert represented two funds in the High Court in London, winning a $20 million award against Liberia, one of the poorest countries in the world.

Dechert’s London offices have also represented hedge fund Elliott Associates against Peru, Kensington International against the Republic of Congo and NML against Argentina.

Jubilee Debt Campaign says Dechert’s action on behalf of vulture funds sharply contradicts their desire to be a socially responsible company.

Dechert is sponsoring a summit on global ethics in New York this week and is a member of Advocates for International Development, which aims to support the Millennium Development Goals.

On Friday Andrew Gwynne’s Debt Relief (Developing Countries) Bill will have its Second Reading. The bill aims to prevent vulture actions against the world’s poorest countries.

The UK Government recently came out in support of legislation against vultures, despite opposition from the financial services sector, saying that such legislation could save poor countries as much as £145 million.

Dechert opposed it, on behalf of several hedge funds, telling a Government consultation that legislation would be “unfair” and “unprincipled”.

Nick Dearden, Director of Jubilee Debt Campaign said: "Today we have sent a clear message to Dechert and other law firms - you cannot claim on the one hand to be ‘socially responsible’ and on the other hand to be assisting vulture funds profiting from the misery and poverty of those living in the poorest countries on earth.

"Vulture funds are anathema to anyone interested in fighting global poverty, and making money from vulture cases is shameful behaviour.”

[Ekk/2]

Keywords: vulture funds
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