Irish parliament questioned on DGCCRF investigation

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar (former Irish Prime Minister) was questioned in the Dáil (Irish parliament) this week on progress made by the CCPC on the 150 complaints made to them by Irish consumers in relation to French leaseback purchases. The question was posed by Catherine Connolly TD.

Mr. Varadkar replied:

“The CCPC received complaints from Irish property purchasers and provided an initial preliminary assessment to the DGCCRF for over 150 complainants,” he noted.

The sale documents from the Irish buyers have been transferred to the French authorities. “The CCPC has and continues to provide significant time and resources to this matter and to support the DGCCRF investigation,” he added.

“In order to protect the integrity of the investigation and comply with relevant French criminal procedural codes, the DGCCRF requested that the CCPC refrain from commenting or communicating on the investigation other than providing updates,” said Mr Varadkar.

“When DGCCRF has completed its investigation it will provide to the CCPC information on any potential concerns or infringements with respect to Irish agents identified during the course of their investigation.”

“At that point, the CCPC will assess the information provided by the DGCCRF in order to determine whether there was any breach of consumer protection legislation by Irish traders,” the Tánaiste said.

Note that the CCPC received over 200 complaints from Irish purchasers in 2017. They stated at that time that the matter was immediate priority issue for their Consumer Enforcement Division. The issue has been raised in the European Parliament and European Commission. However, the French DGCCRF have not provided any reassurance to Irish consumers.

The first round of comprehensive complaint details were sent from the CCPC to the DGCCRF before the end of 2017. Given we are now in Q2 2021 and there is no visibility of any useful or just conclusion, it seems that EU Directives to protect consumers may not be worth the multi-lingual paper they’re written on…

Where is EU Justice and Consumers?

There has been no assistance to those faced with large mortgage repayments on properties that many owners believe were over valued at the time of sale and fraudulently sold on the basis of ‘guaranteed rent’ and trapped in a never ending leaseback contract. This contract is of the French governments design, a scheme designed to promote French tourism, basically a scheme to have individual consumers pay for tourist infrastructure.

Read the full report by John Mulligan in the Irish Independent on 27th March 2021: Irish authorities are aiding probe into French property

The CCPC have also responded to request for an update from Clare Daly MEP:

This matter is a DGCCRF criminal investigation and the CCPC have been requested to comply with the requirements of Article 11 of the French criminal procedure code and not comment or communicate on the investigation unless permitted to do so by the DGCCRF. In order to protect the integrity of the DGCCRF investigation, the CCPC has strictly adhered to this requirement. In April 2020, the CCPC was advised that due to COVID-19 the DGCCRF investigation had been disrupted and that this had delayed progress on the matter. However, we have continued to engage with them and to seek updates on progress. Although the COVID-19 crisis has impacted their investigation, we are assured that work has continued and the matter is being progressed.  The CCPC appreciates that the French legal system confidentiality requirements may be considered difficult and frustrating for the complainants affected. However, please be assured our priority in the CCPC is to continue to support the DGCCRF investigation and to ensure that we comply with the legal procedural requirements of the French criminal investigation process.

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