A money lender who ‘flouted the law’ to make more than £2 million from loan agreements despite being refused a credit licence has become the first person to be subjected to a serious crime order imposed by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
Dharam Prakash Gopee was sentenced to three and a half years in jail at Southwark Crown Court. A Serious Crime Prevention Order (SCPO) was also placed on the 64-year-old. The prevention order will begin on Gopee’s release and will last for five years.
The order prevents Gopee from conducting any business in the credit sphere, limits the number of bank facilities he is permitted to operate, and requires him to make disclosures of those banking facilities to the FCA. Breaching the terms can result in a five year jail term.
Between 2012 and 2016, Gopee acted as an illegal lender despite being refused a consumer credit licence by the Office of Fair Trading, or having secured any authorisation from the FCA. He lent money to vulnerable consumers at high rates, securing the loans against their property, and then sought to take possession if they failed to pay. Over the four years, he issued around £1 million of new loans and took in at least £2 million in payments from old and new customers, who were unaware that he did not have a licence.
Sentencing, Jude Martin Beddoe said Gopee was aware of the regulator’s serious concerns, but ignored them, deciding instead to ‘deliberately flout the law’.
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 SCPO which will severely inhibit Gopee’s ability to reoffend.’