By Meirion Jones
Former UK ministers and MPs from all UK parties are set to back a bill later on Wednesday outlawing the activities of vulture funds, hedge funds which divert debt relief from the poorest countries into their own pockets.
The bill singles out Donegal International and its boss Michael “Goldfinger” Sheehan who was exposed by Newsnight reporter Greg Palast for making a fortune out of Zambia’s debt.
Vulture funds have been condemned by governments around the world as perverse and immoral for preying on the world’s poor.
Developed countries including Britain and the US have spent billions of pounds trying to relieve the debts of the world’s poorest nations so that they can spend that money on health and education.
The vulture fund speculators effectively divert that debt relief to themselves by buying debt for pennies in the pound just as it is about to be written off, and then suing in British or US courts for the full value plus interest.
In 2007, Newsnight exposed the activities of Donegal International which bought a tranche of Zambia’s debt for $3m and then sued for $55m – the size of Zambia’s health budget.
Reporter Greg Palast doorstepped Donegal’s boss Michael “Goldfinger” Sheehan who styles himself after the James Bond villain.