The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has filed criminal charges against an individual for lending to consumers without permission, for the first time.
Dharam Prakash Gopee appeared at Westminster Magistrates Court today charged with offences under the Consumer Credit Act 1974 and the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000.
The charges arise from an investigation carried out by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) into Gopee and companies he controls including Reddy Corporation Ltd, Speedy Bridging Finance Ltd and Barons Finance Ltd.
It is alleged that Gopee operated as an unlicensed consumer credit lender.
The FCA said Gopee conducted regulated activity without authorisation over a numbers of years by entering into and administrating regulated credit agreements as a lender, which came under the jurisdiction of the FCA after 1 April 2014. This is the first time that the FCA has taken criminal action in a case related to its consumer credit powers.
The FCA said 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.
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The FCA said that 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 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.