A payday lender and its owner have been banned after the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) discovered “reckless” practices across the business.
The regulator has published two prohibition notices issued to Andrew Barry Hart, director of Wage Payment and Payday Loans Limited (WPPL), and to WPPL itself.
The FCA has banned Hart from performing any role in regulated financial services and cancelled WPPL’s interim permission.
WPPL provides payday loans under the trading names Payday Overdraft, Wage payday and Doshloans. Hart is the sole director, controller and owner.
The FCA found that between 1 April 2014 and August 28 2014, Hart took a reckless approach to managing WPPL and to general compliance.
Hart was found to have failed to ensure WPPL had appropriate systems to communicate with customers, and to ensure complaints were dealt with adequately. The FCA said he also failed to provide proper oversight of WPPL’s staff and to ensure loan agreements were compliant.
The FCA added that Hart’s failings had a direct impact on WPPL’s customers, who were often treated unfairly and frequently misled. The business also failed to take reasonable steps to implement appropriate policies and procedures relating to credit-worthiness, affordability and forbearance.
Customer complaints were commonly disregarded, and excessive sums were taken out of some customers’ bank accounts.
In some cases these practices caused financial loss to customers, many of whom were already in financial difficulties.
Due to these failings, the FCA found that Hart is not a fit and proper person because he lacks integrity and competence.
On August 28 2014, WPPL submitted an application for the imposition of requirements on its interim permission. Since that date, WPPL has not been permitted to lend to new or existing customers or to engage in any outbound collection of any debts.
The FCA has now cancelled WPPL’s interim permission, although Hart and WPPL dispute the FCA’s decisions and have referred their cases to the upper tribunal – the FCA’s appeals process.
The tribunal’s decisions will be published on its website.
By Marcel LeGouais