Thursday, 2 December 2021
Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment
3. To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment further to Parliamentary Question Nos. 141 of 24 March and 174 of 15 September 2021, the status of plans to conduct an investigation into potential mis-selling by Irish agents involved in the French leaseback property scandal; the engagement he has had with the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission in this regard since September 2021; if the Commission has to-date received the final report of the investigation by the French consumer protection authorities La direction générale de la Concurrence, de la Consommation et de la Répression des fraudes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [59581/21]
One of the primary functions of the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (‘CCPC’) is to enforce consumer protection law in Ireland. For cross border consumer protection issues, the CCPC is part of the European Consumer Protection Co-operation (CPC) Network, which is comprised of national authorities responsible for enforcing EU consumer protection laws. This network protects consumers when conducting transactions across national borders and allows consumer protection agencies to co-operate to resolve particular consumer issues. I am advised by the CCPC that the CPC Network is central to addressing this matter, which involved the purchase of properties in France. These properties were developed, marketed, sold and managed by French traders under a French ‘Residence de Tourisme’ scheme devised by the French Government to provide tourist accommodation in France. Under the European CPC network, the appropriate authorities to conduct an investigation in relation to this matter are the French consumer protection authorities – Direction Générale de la Concurrence, de la Consommation et de la Répression des Fraudes (‘DGCCRF’).
The CCPC assures me that it has engaged with the DGCCRF with respect to the issues highlighted by Irish property purchasers of these French properties. The CCPC received complaints from Irish property purchasers and provided an initial preliminary assessment to the DGCCRF for over 150 complainants. Following consultation with the DGCCRF, the CCPC collated and transferred to the DGCCRF the transactional documentation of over 150 Irish complainants. The CCPC has and continues to provide significant time and resources to this matter and to supporting the DGCCRF investigation. In addition, throughout the period of engagement with the DGCCRF, whenever issues have been raised by complainants or where they have requested the CCPC to forward additional documentation to DGCCRF in relation to any matters, the CCPC has done so and acted in accordance with DGCCRF instructions to ensure compliance with French legal requirements regarding criminal investigations.
The DGCCRF are investigating the issues that were referred to the CCPC by the complainants involved. The primary focus of the CCPC is to continue to support the DGCCRF investigation through providing any assistance or information requested by the DGCCRF. The CCPC has not yet received the final report of the DGCCRF investigation. The CCPC has kept lines of communication open with the complainants and has updated complainants when such updates have been provided by the DGCCRF. That will continue to be the case. The DGCCRF have advised that they will inform the CCPC when reports are handed over to the Public Prosecutor in France and they will draw the Public Prosecutor’s attention to the importance of keeping Irish complainants informed about the state of play of proceedings.
The CCPC considers this matter as a high priority issue and one which they have dedicated considerable resources.