Charges removed from properties of illegal money lender victims

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has obtained a High Court Order to remove hundreds of HM Land Registry charges, notices and restrictions registered against consumers’ properties by illegal money lender Dharam Prakash Gopee.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has successfully obtained a High Court Order to remove approximately 625 charges, notices or restrictions registered in the name of an illegal money lender, Dharam Prakash Gopee’s, former companies.

This application is the latest in several legal proceedings commenced by the FCA against Mr Gopee arising out of his illegal money lending activities. Gopee was sentenced in 2018 to three and a half years’ imprisonment for offences under the Consumer Credit Act 1974 and the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000.

Between 2012 and 2016, Mr Gopee acted as an illegal lender despite being refused a consumer credit licence by the OFT, or securing any authorisation from the FCA. He loaned 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 4 year period, Gopee’s accounts showed that he issued approximately £1 million of new loans and took in at least £2 million in payments from consumers who were unaware that Gopee was unlicensed.

When sentencing Mr Gopee on 9 February 2018, trial judge HHJ Beddoe noted that Mr Gopee was aware of the FCA’s serious concerns, but ignored them, deciding instead to “…deliberately flout the law” ignoring the fact that he had lost his consumer credit licence, and endeavoured to enforce agreements he knew were unenforceable but that debtors did not. He continued to pressurise debtors with demands for payment, threatening court action that he knew could not be sustained.

In addition to this custodial sentence, Mr Gopee was issued with a Serious Crime Prevention Order (SCPO) in 2018 which was also the first time the FCA had sought such an order, highlighting the severity of Gopee’s conduct.

Mark Steward, Executive Director of Enforcement and Market Oversight at the FCA, said of Gopee’s offences “unauthorised money-lending is a criminal offence and causes serious harm, often to vulnerable communities. Mr Gopee’s offending caused substantial harm to a large number of vulnerable consumers”.

Steward continued, commenting on the benefit that the High Court order to remove HM Land Registry charges would bring, “the order obtained today will ensure Mr Gopee’s hold over properties owned by his victims is relinquished, by removing charges, notices and restrictions that he obtained in carrying out his illegal activities and which he continued to hold”.

The charges, notices and restrictions are registered in the names of the following companies, formerly under the control of Mr Gopee but now in liquidation: Barons Finance Ltd, Euro Business Finance PLC, Ghana Commercial Investments Ltd, Reddy Corporation Ltd, Barons Finance 1 Ltd, Ghana Commercial Finance Ltd, Barons Bridging Finance 1 Ltd, Pangold Estate Ltd, Moneylink Finance Ltd, Speedy Bridging Finance Ltd, Agni Estates Ltd and Pangold Investments Ltd.

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