The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has charged an individual for the first time with acting as an unlicensed consumer credit lender.
Dharam Prakash Gopee appeared at Westminster Magistrates Court last week charged with offences under the Consumer Credit Act 1974 and the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000.
Mr Gopee is alleged to have operated as an unlicensed consumer credit lender conducting regulated activity without authorisation over a numbers of years by entering into and administrating regulated credit agreements as a lender.
He is alleged to have dealt with consumers in difficult financial circumstances as a ‘lender of last resort’, and often registered charges over the homes of his clients enabling him to take possession of property in the event of the borrower failing to repay the debt.
An investigation by the FCA uncovered the dealings by Mr Gopee and companies that he controlled including Barons Finance Ltd, Reddy Corporation Ltd and Speedy Bridging Finance Ltd.
Over ?1 million is estimated to have been lent by Mr Gopee and his companies over the last four years, despite no consumer credit licence being held by either he or his companies from the Office of Fair Trading, or authorisation from the Financial Conduct Authority.
A plea and Trial Preparation Hearing is due to be heard on 14 February 2017 at Southwark Crown Court.
Regulation of consumer credit was taken over by the FCA from the Office of Fair Trading on April 1 2014. This is the first time that the FCA has taken criminal action in a consumer credit case.