Financial Conduct Authority
FCA takes first criminal action against an individual acting as unlicensed consumer credit lender
Mr Dharam Prakash Gopee yesterday, 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.
Notes to editors
- Mr Gopee was disqualified as a director on 5 May 2016 for 15 years, the maximum period of disqualification, by Mr Registrar Briggs. The disqualification arose out of the liquidation of Barons Finance Limited.
- Carrying out unauthorised business is an offence punishable by terms of up to two years imprisonment or a fine or both.
- You should only deal with a financial services firm that is authorised by us, and check the Register to ensure it is. If you deal with an unauthorised firm you will not be covered by the Financial Ombudsman Service(link is external)(FOS) or Financial Services Compensation Scheme(link is external) (FSCS) if things go wrong.
- The Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 gives the FCA powers to investigate and prosecute unauthorised business cases.
- Almost all firms offering financial services in the UK must be authorised by us.
- On the 1 April 2013 the FCA became responsible for the conduct supervision of all regulated financial firms and the prudential supervision of those not supervised by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA).
- On the 1 April 2014 the FCA became responsible for the regulation of all firms and individuals conducting consumer credit business.
- The FCA has an overarching strategic objective of ensuring the relevant markets function well. To support this it has three operational objectives: to secure an appropriate degree of protection for consumers; to protect and enhance the integrity of the UK financial system; and to promote effective competition in the interests of consumers.
- You can find more information about the FCA, as well as how it is different to the PRA.
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