New research has been published by the banking industry here which aims to address what it says are false claims made about the sale of non-performing loans (NPL) to so-called "vulture funds" by the banks.

Launching the paper, Brian Hayes, chief executive of the Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI), said the banks have made significant progress in reducing their NPL ratios in recent years.

He said that further progress continues to be made in accordance with plans agreed with the European Central Bank Single Supervisory Mechanism.  

"The sale of non-performing loans to investment funds provides benefits for banks and protection for borrowers", Mr Hayes said.

"The extent to which this is contributing to healthier bank balance sheets is good not just for banks but for the wider economy which depends on banks for personal and business lending."

Mr Hayes said the big advantage of investment funds is that they can treat and resolve the loans, that they have deep pockets and that they aren't boxed in by the same capital rules as the banks.

The BPFI's chief economist, Dr Ali Ugur, said a number of false claims made about the NPL sales process have created unhelpful myths.  

"We believe it is important to dispel those myths by illustrating the way in which the process provides one of a number of very important solutions to the management and resolution of mortgage arrears," Dr Ugur said.

For example, the BPFI says it has been claimed that borrowers do not have the same protection when their loans are sold on by banks.

But the organisation says borrowers do have the same rights after such a transaction.

Another claim that the industry says is incorrect is that investment funds do not offer to borrowers forbearance measures similar to those from banks.

The BPFI says the legal process here is very costly and lengthy and so it works against the business mode of the funds.

In relation to claims by David Hall from the Irish Mortgage Holders Organisation (IMHO) that Ireland is facing a "tsunami of repossessions", the BPFI says repossession here are actually low by international standards.

While investment funds here do put arrangements in place for borrowers, the BPFI says, even though it has been claimed that they don't.

It says that the business model of investment funds is dependent on them making arrangements with the borrower so that the loan can be made sustainable and then sold on.

"We know from talking to various firms, on both sides of the NPL sales process, that the process is delivering workable solutions for lenders and borrowers alike," Dr Ugur claimed.

The BPFI also said that the Central Bank, with the support of the Oireachtas, has ensured that the protections afforded to borrowers by the relevant codes, including the Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears (CCMA), move with the affected loans.

However, David Hall challenged many of the claims made by the BPFI.

He said that he understands that there will be a significant number of repossession proceedings issued later this year.

He added that the CCMA is a voluntary code and has no legal basis.

The IMHO spokesman also called for files on the sale of loans to so-called vulture funds be released.

Meanwhile, Brokers Ireland said that while the increased pace of progress to address the issue of non-performing loans in the last two years was welcome, "the tragedy is that it has taken the best part of a decade to get to this stage, and there is still a long way to go".

"The consequence of not dealing with the situation, of lenders themselves not writing down debt, as we have called for over those years, has been that new and existing mortgage holders have been paying the price in substantially higher interest rates than their euro area counterparts, not to mention, the wider social costs," said Diarmuid Kelly, Chief Executive of Brokers Ireland.

He said brokers backed the European Commission's view that banks should write down debt at a much earlier stage.