19Oct

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has confirmed its prohibition of Andrew Barry Hart, who is now unable to carry out any role in financial services. Mr Hart becomes the first senior manager from a consumer credit firm to be banned since the FCA took over as consumer credit regulator.

Mr Hart was the sole director of Wage Payment and Payday Loans Limited (WPPL). As WPPL now has no-one authorised to carry out controlled functions, the payday lending firm has been stripped of its interim permission and its application for full authorisation has been refused.

The FCA originally gave notice of its intention to impose these sanctions in July 2016, but at that time Mr Hart and WPPL announced their intention to appeal to the Tribunal. That appeal has now been withdrawn.

The FCA believes that Mr Hart lacks both integrity and competence. The regulator found serious issues with Mr Hart and his firm in a number of areas, including:

• Taking repayments in excess of the agreed amounts
• Misleading customers, such as by falsely stating on attempts to collect missed payments that the company had a legal department
• Pressurising clients in arrears into repaying, such as by threatening legal action when none was intended. The firm also failed to issue default notices in the format prescribed by the FCA’s rules
• Not complying with regulatory requirements on credit and affordability checks – not all customers were asked to provide proof of income, in many cases no affordability assessments were carried out, and the affordability assessment procedure he provided to the FCA was in the words of the regulator’s Decision Notice a document “which appears to have been created only a short time before being provided to the Authority”
• Not complying with regulatory requirements on use of Continuous Payment Authority (CPA) – as no records were kept of when CPA was used, there was nothing to prevent staff from making multiple attempts to collect payments in this way
• Incorrect information being included on loan agreements, such as the information regarding applicable interest rates
• Not taking adequate measures to protect sensitive customer data it was entrusted with. The firm did not have appropriate arrangements for handling documents such as: scanned copies of payslips, bank statements, identity documents and documents used for proof of address such as utility bills
• Inadequate record keeping
• Inadequate complaint handling – there was no documented complaints procedure and no records were kept of complaints received
• Unsatisfactory staff training, especially regarding their knowledge of the rules on how to deal with customers in arrears

Mark Steward, FCA Director of Enforcement and Market Oversight, said:

“There is no place in an FCA-regulated consumer credit market for firms like WPPL or senior managers, like Mr Hart, who lack the requisite integrity and competence to ensure customers are treated fairly and all relevant regulatory obligations are met. We will continue to use our powers to protect consumers and tackle firms who cross the line and senior managers whose failures have caused or contributed to the firm’s failures.”

The information shown in this article was correct at the time of publication. Articles are not routinely reviewed and as such are not updated. Please be aware the facts, circumstances or legal position may change after publication of the article.