Latvians leaving creditors holding the bag

  • 2008-10-29
  • From wire reports

DEBT FRET: Almost all Latvian debtors in the U.K. are under the age of 30, and over half of them are office workers.

RIGA - Hundreds of Latvians returning home from deteriorating working opportunities in the U.K. are also leaving behind a trail of unpaid bills, said Oskars Firmanis, spokesman for debt collection agency Paus Konsults. He said that these Latvians have not settled their debts with British financial institutions before disappearing for home.
Firmanis said that they mostly ran up debts in the U.K. by using checking accounts and credit cards. They are in debt to companies such as HSBC Bank, the Marks & Spencer supermarket store chain, River Island clothing maker and others.

He said that Paus Konsults has contracted with international debt collector Bluestone Recoveries International, and has received a list of several hundred debtors with debts ranging between 100 and 7,000 British pounds (8,680 euros).
Ninety percent of debtors are under 30, and 30 percent of them lived in Riga before leaving for the U.K., with the rest coming from outlying regions, Firmanis said. Almost half of the debtors are office workers, disproving the theory that most of these people are doing just "simple tasks," like construction workers or shop assistants.

Marcis Katajs, a Paus Konsults board member, said that about 20 percent of the debtors are already well known to the company.
"Before leaving for the U.K. they had unsettled debts in Latvia. This is not a surprise, as the experience shows that Latvian debtors often go to work abroad hoping to avoid repayment of their debts in Latvia," Katajs said.
He said that debt collection from Latvian citizens who return from the U.K. is very successful in comparison to the debtors in Latvia, as those who return are more conscientious about repaying their debts.
Paus Konsults expects that as soon as the visa free regime with the U.S. is introduced, some people in debt to Latvian companies will leave to seek a better life in the West. Thus, Paus Konsults plans to submit its list of debtors to its customers, to facilitate finding debtors living there.

Some of Paus Konsults clients include Swedbank, SEB Banka, PArex BAnka, Norvik Banka, Danske Bank, Nelss Lizings, Lateko Lizings, BIG, Inserviss Credit, Tele2 and LMT.