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Businessman goes on hunger strike over treatment by banks

John Guidi faces losing his family home after a Clydesdale Bank loan was sold to a US firm.

Clydesdale: Banks says it has offered to meet Mr Guidi (file pic).
Clydesdale: Banks says it has offered to meet Mr Guidi (file pic).

A businessman has gone on hunger strike to protest at his treatment by bankers.

John Guidi, who owned a £60m property business in the west of Scotland, faces eviction after a Clydesdale Bank loan was sold on to American private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management.

SNP MP Angela Crawley raised his case in the Commons on Tuesday, saying her Lanark and Hamilton East constituent has been made personally bankrupt and risks losing his family home within weeks.

She urged the UK Government to enable an independent financial tribunal to resolve such disputes in a fairer way.

Asking an urgent question, Ms Crawley told the Commons: "In 1998, John Guidi built a business in the west of Scotland to a portfolio of almost 150 properties. Clydesdale Bank backed that business from its very beginning.

"He had told me how he was treated by bank chiefs as a model customer and in only 15 years he built a property business worth £60m. He never missed a payment and was in regular communication with the bank and bosses, and appeared to have a great relationship with the organisation.

"In 2002, my constituent has informed me that Clydesdale Bank changed the structure of his loans - introducing him to the tailored business loan.

"Later in 2014, Mr Guidi informs me that Clydesdale Bank sold its tailored business loans to Cerberus Capital Management - an American private equity business.

"He says they aggressively pursued the debt and subsequently put his company into receivership a few months after purchase.

"As a result of my constituent signing a guarantee, he has been made personally bankrupt and the company is pursuing his family home.

"He only has a few weeks before he is evicted and he's taken the decision to start a hunger strike in protest.

"This tragic case brings to attention the vulnerability of UK businesses to the abusive treatment by lenders and vulture funds, and the inadequacy of the current regulation in preventing it."

'As a result of my constituent signing a guarantee, he has been made personally bankrupt and the company is pursuing his family home. He only has a few weeks before he is evicted and he's taken the decision to start a hunger strike in protest'
Angela Crawley MP

Ms Crawley said hundreds of people across the UK ere in a similar position to her constituent after having their loans sold to Cerberus.

She said Mr Guidi wants a "fair say" and has requested his case go to an independent arbitrator for review.

Treasury minister John Glen said he would meet Ms Crawley to discuss her concerns and that he was taking the case "very seriously".

He also told MPs that he understood enforcement action against Mr Guidi is on hold and both Clydesdale and Cerberus have offered to meet him.

Mr Glen said: "It's common across all jurisdictions for banks, at times, to sell off parts of their portfolio of debt.

"The question becomes what is the appropriate mechanisms and safeguards in those cases.

"We know when the sale of debts are made to third parties it is covered under the Standards of Lending Practice, to which Clydesdale are a signatory, and that means they are committed to ensuring that third parties who buy loans have demonstrated that customers will be treated fairly and to allowing customers to complain to the original lender if there is a dispute between the business and the third party which cannot be resolved.

"But I'm very happy to meet with (Ms Crawley) to go through the full extent of her outstanding concerns on this matter and I take this matter and case very seriously."

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