Oxfam vs. Donegal ‘Vulture Fund’ International: 1-0

Vulture - XVI century copperplate engraving 

From the Oxfam website:

In October 2006, Oxfam came across a commercial company trying to scavenge $55 million from Zambia, one of the poorest countries in the world…

And got to the bottom of the story

In 1999, ‘Vulture Fund’ Donegal International bought up $15 million of Zambia’s debt at a knock-down price of $3.3million (just one month before Zambia qualified for debt cancellation).

In February 2007, they attempted to sue Zambia for the full cost of the original debt, plus penalty payments, plus interest – a staggering $55 million.

Then we shouted about it

We broke the story with ‘Newsnight’, on the eve of the High Court judgement … ran an exclusive with the Financial Times …and we turned up outside the Court with a live vulture, just to drive the message home!

Inside the courtroom, the judge said that although he was legally bound to award the core debt, it would be considerably less than Michael Sheehan, the man behind Donegal – who he said had been ‘deliberately evasive and even dishonest’ – was asking for.

And so did our supporters

More than 24,664 actions have already been taken to stop Donegal International scavenging $55 million from Zambia.

Supporters have been sending emails to Mr Sheehan asking him to give the money back; and calling on Gordon Brown to push for legislation to stop vulture funds. More people are adding their voices to this campaign every day.

Then the British government responded

The Treasury issued a statement condemning vulture funds, calling Sheehan’s action ‘socially irresponsible’.

Very soon, it made headlines in America

Donegal is registered in the British Virgin Islands, but Mr. Sheehan is an American citizen. The US media were onto the story fast.

Where it was raised with President Bush

After seeing the story US Congressman John Conyers, chair of the Judiciary Committee, raised it directly with President Bush.

Who said he’d do something about it

We want President Bush to put the brakes on Sheehan, and to send a strong message to all other Vulture Funds that they must stop scavenging on the poorest people in the world.

And now it’s just possible…

Back in the UK, the court re-convenes in March to decide how much to award Sheehan.

…that this kind of thing will STOP.

There is still more to do, please send a strong message to all Vulture Funds that they must stop scavenging on the poorest people in the world.

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4 responses to “Oxfam vs. Donegal ‘Vulture Fund’ International: 1-0

  1. I’ve never heard of “vulture funds” before. Know any good resources for learning more?

  2. Well, not really, but Wikepedia has an entry where you might find out more. Check it out!

  3. The real story is a lot less simple than suggested here. Check out Felix Salmon’s report on Felix Salmon.com (type in vulture in the search box). He actually read the judgment…

  4. The article you mention is here. It’s very long, but very interesting. He indeed makes it sound much more complex, but I reserve myself the right to mull over it and get back to you, Nkoy…

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