A 64-year old man from Essex has been sentenced to three and a half years imprisonment for acting as an illegal money lender.

He was found guilty at Southwark Crown Court after the court heard that he engaged in money lending between 2012 and 2016 despite not being authorised by either the Office of Fair Trading (which was the consumer credit regulator up until 2014), or the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

The individual granted approximately £1 million of new loans over the four-year period to some 147 people. These were mostly high-interest secured loans, and he took steps to attempt to re-possess customers’ property when they were unable to repay. In total, he collected at least £2 million in payments, and it is reported that none of his customers were aware that he did not possess the necessary authorisation.

Passing sentence, His Honour Judge Beddoe referred to the defendant’s willingness to “deliberately flout the law”, and to try to enforce credit agreements which he must have known were not enforceable.

The FCA press release adds that the individual did, on one occasion, write a letter to the regulator, in an “attempt to obtain a response that he could use to sanction his conduct.” In court, HHJ Beddoe described this letter as a “contrived conceit”.

The individual will serve this three and a half year term consecutively, once he has completed his previous 15 month jail term for contempt of court. On his release, the individual will become subject to a Serious Crime Prevention Order (SCPO), which severely limits the credit activities he can carry out. Should he breach the Order, he could be sentenced to up to five years in prison. Proceedings are also under way to confiscate the proceeds of his criminal activity, and he has previously been disqualified from serving as a director for 15 years, which is the maximum sanction that can be imposed in this instance.

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

“The court is sending a very clear message that deliberate and repeated offending will lead to long periods of imprisonment. Today’s decision also imposes the FCA’s first Serious Crime Prevention Order which will severely inhibit Mr Gopee’s ability to reoffend and should protect consumers in the future. The FCA will continue to take whatever action is necessary to bring offenders to justice and protect consumers.”

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.