A Brent man who ran an illegal £128,000 money lending business has been given a suspended sentence.
Kyaw Min, aged 51, of Ainsworth Close was sentenced for running an illegal money lending scheme for seven years, in which he dealt interest-only loans without permission from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
He appeared at Harrow Crown Court on Wednesday (May 5) where he was sentenced to 17 months in prison, suspended for 18 months and ordered to do 200 hours of unpaid work.
He pleaded guilty to illegal money lending and money laundering offences at a previous court hearing.
Simon Mortimer, prosecuting, told the court that K Min had been running the illegal business since April 2011. During this period, he issued 124 loans amounting to £128,935.00 and the total interest repaid was £53,607.
Loans were given at 10% interest on the outstanding capital each month. Victims were forced to pay off the interest on the loan every month until the full amount could be repaid.
The court heard one victim borrowed £12,000 over multiple loans and was forced to pay 10% interest of £1,200 every month on the amount borrowed. This was not reducing the amount he owed which remained at £12,000. He fell behind on interest payments when his balance increased to £19,000. In October 2017, he paid £8,000 assuming his balance would reduce to £11,000 but was told by the illegal lender he still owed £15,500.
The case was prosecuted by the England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) in partnership with Brent and Harrow Trading Standards and the Metropolitan Police.
IMLT officers executed a warrant at K Min’s home address in May 2018 and seized documents containing evidence of his crimes.
Tony Quigley, Head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team, said: “Loan sharks will prey on those who are struggling financially and resort to extreme and often violent measures to recover their debts. They exploit vulnerable people from all backgrounds, and any gains are often used to fund further criminal activity.
“We will not tolerate illegal money lending in our communities and would urge anyone with information about this crime to come forward and report it. Victims can also access specialist support on our 24 hour helpline or live chat service.”
Cllr Promise Knight, Lead Member for Community Safety and Engagement said: “This is a great result for the team. Illegal money lenders prey on the most vulnerable, with their extortionate charges and aggressive techniques, making victim’s difficult financial circumstances even worse. It is really important loan sharks are reported to Trading Standards and IMLT so that they can investigate to keep people safe from financial exploitation.”
A Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) confiscation timetable was set out by the court to recover the gains the illegal lender made.
Community organisations, charities and groups are being encouraged to apply for funding for projects that help raise awareness of the dangers of using loan sharks.
Grants of up to £5,000 are being made available with joint bids between multiple agencies being considered. Projects must raise awareness of the dangers of loan sharks, help to reduce crime and disorder and have a positive impact on local communities.
The funding comes from money seized from convicted loan sharks under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA).
Find out how to apply for funding at www.stoploansharks.co.uk/poca-funding/
If you or someone you know have fallen victim to a loan shark, you can contact the Illegal Money Lending Team 24/7 on 0300 555 2222 for specialist support.
Live Chat is available on the website between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday. Just click on the chat icon in the bottom right-hand corner to talk online with a support worker from the team.