Fourteen companies involved in unauthorised money lending controlled by Dharam Prakash Gopee have been wound up by the High Court.
This follows an investigation by Company Investigations of the Insolvency Service which found that of the 14 companies, only one had ever possessed a consumer credit licence permitting it to operate as a lender. That licence had been revoked in 2013, following a Tribunal finding that Mr Gopee lacked the both the integrity and the competence to operate a consumer credit business.
The unlicensed companies lent to members of the public at high interest rates, secured against the borrowers’ homes and brought numerous court cases to take possession of properties belonging to borrowers who fell behind with payments.
The paperwork provided to customers was confusing and unclear and some were required to sign a declaration waiving their rights under the Consumer Credit Act. This was described as ‘distressing’ by the Court who confirmed that an individual could not waive their rights under that Act.
Mr Gopee’s companies regularly filed false and misleading accounts at Companies House claiming to be dormant when in fact they had substantial active loan books.
Mr Gopee was disqualified as a director on 5 May 2016 for 15 years, the maximum of disqualification available and followed the compulsory liquidation of Barons Finance Limited and subsequent Insolvency Service investigation into the company’s affairs.
In his judgement; Deputy Registrar Prentice found that the companies were involved in “unauthorised lending”, that they were incapable of carrying on business in a “transparent manner” and had engaged in “wholesale abuse of the company accounting system”. He noted that the companies never had any employees other than Mr Gopee despite company letters signed by “Nigel Coombes” and “H Glover, manager for legal services who were Mr Gopee under another name.” Another deliberate confusion that the Deputy Registrar noted was the use of the name Ghana Commercial Bunk Limited “which sounds very like bank.”
Welcoming the Court’s decision, David Hill, a chief investigator with the Insolvency Service, commented:
I am very pleased to see that the Court has called a halt to the unscrupulous activities of these companies. They have pursued hundreds of borrowers for loans that should never have been made.
The companies have shown no regard for the law.
The companies subject to the winding up order are:
Euro Business Finance plc
Reddy Corporation Limited
Ghana Commercial Finance Limited
Barons Bridging Finance 1 Limited
Barons Finance 1 Limited
Moneylink Finance Limited
Agni Investments Limited
Ghana Commercial Investment Ltd
Pangold Estate Limited
Pangold Investments Limited
Speedy Bridging Finance Limited
Marketing Web Limited
Agni Estates Ltd
Euro Asset Management Limited
The Financial Conduct Authority is currently taking criminal action against Mr Gopee for acting as an unlicensed consumer credit lender.
The petitions were presented under s124A of the Insolvency Act 1986.
Company Investigations, part of the Insolvency Service, uses powers under the Companies Act 1985 to conduct confidential fact-finding investigations into the activities of live limited companies in the UK on behalf of the Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS). Further information about live company investigations is available.
The Insolvency Service, an executive agency sponsored by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), administers the insolvency regime, and aims to deliver and promote a range of investigation and enforcement activities both civil and criminal in nature, to support fair and open markets. We do this by effectively enforcing the statutory company and insolvency regimes, maintaining public confidence in those regimes and reducing the harm caused to victims of fraudulent activity and to the business community, including dealing with the disqualification of directors in corporate failures.
BEIS’ mission is to build a dynamic and competitive UK economy that works for all, in particular by creating the conditions for business success and promoting an open global economy. The Criminal Investigations and Prosecutions team contributes to this aim by taking action to deter fraud and to regulate the market. They investigate and prosecute a range of offences, primarily relating to personal or company insolvencies.
The agency also authorises and regulates the insolvency profession, assesses and pays statutory entitlement to redundancy payments when an employer cannot or will not pay employees, provides banking and investment services for bankruptcy and liquidation estate funds and advises ministers and other government departments on insolvency law and practice.