FCA takes first criminal action against an individual acting as unlicensed consumer credit lender
Mr Dharam Prakash Gopee has today, 17 January 2017, appeared at Westminster Magistrates Court charged with offences under the Consumer Credit Act 1974 and the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000. These charges arise from an investigation carried out by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) into Mr Gopee and companies he controls including Reddy Corporation Ltd, Speedy Bridging Finance Ltd and Barons Finance Ltd.
It is alleged that Mr Gopee operated as an unlicensed consumer credit lender. He conducted regulated activity without authorisation over a numbers of years by entering into and administrating regulated credit agreements as a lender. This type of financial service was previously licensed by the Office of Fair Trading until 1 April 2014, when it became regulated by the FCA. This is the first time that the FCA has taken criminal action in a case related to its consumer credit powers.
Mr Gopee acted as a lender of last resort and is alleged to have engaged with consumers who were often in difficult circumstances. He regularly registered charges over the homes of borrowers to enable him to take possession of a property if the borrower failed to pay the debt.
Mr Gopee is believed to have lent in excess of £1 million over the last four years, whilst neither in possession of a consumer credit licence from the OFT, or equivalent authorisation by the FCA.
The case against Mr Gopee was sent to Southwark Crown Court for trial, and a Plea and Trial Preparation Hearing is provisionally listed to be heard on 14 February 2017.