Financial Conduct Authority  

Illegal doorstep lender to pay back £5m

Illegal doorstep lender to pay back £5m

An illegal doorstep money lender who targeted vulnerable victims must pay a confiscation order totalling more than £5m, or face an additional 11 years in prison. 

In February 2018 Dharam Prakash Gopee was found guilty of acting as an illegal money lender in a case brought to court by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Gopee was handed a three and a half year prison sentence having illegally loaned money to vulnerable customers at high rates, while describing himself as a "a lender of last resort". 

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Between August 2012 and December 2016, Gopee entered into 147 new credit agreements with new vulnerable victims in difficult circumstances, for sums totalling over £1m, the court heard.

He regularly registered charges over the homes of borrowers to allow him to take possession of a property if the borrower failed to pay the debt.

Now, in a confiscation order made at Southwark Crown Court on December 11, Gopee has been ordered to pay  £5,118,018.72 in an attempt to confiscate the entirety of the criminal profits he made as an illegal money lender. 

He must also pay almost £230,000 in compensation to his victims, in a case described by the FCA as "one of the worst cases of contempt of court" it had seen. 

In addition to his prison sentence in 2018, Gopee also served two prison terms for contempt of court for breaching a court restraint order. 

Mark Steward, executive director of enforcement and market oversight at the FCA, said: "Mr Gopee’s offending has caused substantial harm to vulnerable consumers.

"He has defied court orders in continuing to offend in one of the worst cases of contempt of court seen by the FCA.

"Together with his jailing, this order seeks to deprive him of all his ill-gotten gains and to compensate victims. He runs the risk of a very significant additional jail term if he fails to comply with these orders."

Gopee is also subject to a Serious Crime Prevention Order, which prevents him from undertaking further money lending for five years, and a travel ban, to ensure he does not leave the UK until his orders are paid. 

rachel.mortimer@ft.com

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