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Tunbridge Wells: The Bankruptcy Capital Of Europe

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http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/news/article....e_id=2&ct=5

Kent: the 'bankruptcy tourism' capital

Alan O'Sullivan, This is Money

29 August 2009, 12:01am

The scenic Kent town of Tunbridge Wells and its neighbour Greenhithe have become a Mecca for impoverished Germans fleeing onerous bankruptcy laws in their home country.

The two towns are being used as a settlement base for a German company, Insolvenz Agentur, which charges German bankrupts thousands of euro to help them resettle in the UK and file for bankruptcy under our comparatively lenient laws. It works with several estate agents in Kent to provide its clients, who tend to be at or near retirement age, with flats near other Germans who have resettled in the area.

They arrive in the country to rid themselves of their debts and work, paying up to €8,000 to Insolvenz Agentur for their services.

Some were professionals in Germany, however, due to the recession and rising unemployment, many are opting to take menial jobs such as street cleaning in order to stay in the UK and escape their extensive debts at home.

A bankrupt can completely escape their debts after one-year in Britain, compared to seven in Germany.

All 'bankruptcy tourists' have to do is prove their 'centre of main interest' – job and main residence – is in the UK and they are fee of debt after one year, which other European countries are obliged to recognise after changes to EU law in 2000.

This is Money highlighted recently the increasing numbers of foreign bankrupts seeking refuge in the UK. Although the majority of cases are not technically fraudulent under the Government's lax rules and the EU individuals are entitled to stay, they highlight the increase in European 'bankrupty tourism'.

These people can pay between €1,000 and €8,000 to resettle, depending on the level of assistance they need, according to Insolvenz Agentur founder Marcus Kray.

He told This is Money he has helped more than 150 Germans resettle since the company was founded in 2007 and claims 85% of people decide to stay on due to the higher quality of life in the UK. In Germany, bailiffs could seize any earnings over €980 a month they would earn for up to seven years.

Mr Kray said: 'For someone who is, say, 55-years-old, it is too difficult for them to survive on this up to the age of 63. They may have to move out of their home and so they decide to leave it all behind and move here.

'We have the Kent region to place people into, so that they have other German speakers nearby or a German doctor or dentist for quality treatment in their native language.'

When asked if it is difficult to find jobs for his clients, Mr Kray replied: 'There is always something for them to do. They can become litter pickers or something like that. They can earn £5.60 an hour. Anything is better than staying at home for them.'

His company also helps UK residents to file for bankruptcy in Germany on debts they accumulated while living on the Continent. The advantage of filing in Germany is that their UK credit report will not be adversely affected by the German ruling.

Neil Smyth, an insolvency specialist and partner with law firm Taylor Wessing, said: 'Our European offices have been approached by people seeking advice on this. If they have genuine reasons to move and genuinely want to establish a long-term residence in the UK, we are happy to advise them. However, if they are just thinking about moving here short-term to escape their debts, we will not assist.' The numbers quoted by Mr Kray are a fraction of the numbers of people filing for bankruptcy in Britain: a record 19,000 people went bankrupt in the UK between April and June this year.

However they are slightly higher than figures obtained by This is Money from the Government-backed Insolvency Service: in the year to March, of the 59 foreigners filing for bankruptcy after less than 12 months of residence, 21 were found to be a fraudulent and the Insolvency Service has so far had seven of these annulled.

Looks like a nice reciprocal relationship with old Fritz. Don’t believe the hype – we are competitive at something – bankruptcy. I see it as something like Dignitas for people who trusted that their pension fund and job for life would pay off. It’s just “market completion†– you can be competitive on the downside too :blink:

Edited by AvidFan

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http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/news/article....e_id=2&ct=5

Kent: the 'bankruptcy tourism' capital

Alan O'Sullivan, This is Money

29 August 2009, 12:01am

Looks like a nice reciprocal relationship with old Fritz. Don’t believe the hype �" we are competitive at something �" bankruptcy. I see it as something like Dignitas for people who trusted that their pension fund and job for life would pay off. It’s just “market completion†�" you can be competitive on the downside too :blink:

I love the idea of Tunbridge Wells being over-run by bankrupt Germans - I'll bet they're seething. Can only be a matter of time before The Telegraph's letters page is inundated with missives from Bufton-Tufton.

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