A LOAN shark from Chelmsford, who operated an illegal money lending business across the county and raked in £106,000 from vulnerable victims, has been sentenced at Chelmsford Crown Court today (22 March 2018).
Paul Gladman, 54, of West Avenue was sentenced to 6 months, suspended for 2 years and a 6 month curfew between 7pm and 5am after pleading guilty to illegal money lending at a trial hearing earlier this week (19 March 2018).
The case was prosecuted by the Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) who work in partnership with Essex County Council Trading Standards and Essex Police.
On 13 September 2016, officers from the IMLT executed warrants at the defendant’s home address and business premises in Maylandsea.
During searches of both addresses and the defendant’s vehicle, officers found various loan agreements, diaries containing details of loans made, collection sheets and other loan documentation. A large amount of cash (£5,980) was also seized from Gladman’s home.
Pictured: Payment cards seized from Gladman’s home on 13 September 2016
On behalf of the prosecution, Stuart Jessop told the court that the defendant had been operating an illegal money lending business from 1 June 2015 to his arrest date on 13 September 2016 without authorisation from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
The prosecution explained that the defendant had previously been licensed to carry out consumer credit activities under his father’s business between March 2005 and May 2015.
On 1 April 2014, responsibility for the regulation of consumer credit businesses such as ‘money lending businesses’ transferred from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
The court was told that individuals who held a licence issued by the OFT were required to apply for interim permission for approval from the FCA between 1 March and 31 May 2015 to continue their money lending businesses.
An IMLT investigation was launched after Paul Gladman failed to apply for full permission from the FCA and continued to issue loans and collect payments from borrowers.
Financial examinations of the diaries seized from Gladman’s home revealed that the defendant had issued 185 loans to 49 separate individuals during the period in which he was operating as an unlicensed lender.
The loan shark charged 50% interest on loans and collected over £106,000 from vulnerable victims. The diaries also showed that penalties totalling £34,489 were charged for late payments.
Tony Quigley, Head of the Illegal Money Lending Team, said:
“This result sends a clear message that loan sharks, who are caught flouting the law by conducting consumer credit activities without permission, will be pursued and prosecuted by the IMLT.
“Loan sharking will not be tolerated in Essex and we will continue to work with council and police partners to combat this crime.
“We urge victims to come forward and report loan sharks in confidence on 0300 555 2222. All calls are strictly confidential and you will be offered welfare support while we build a case against the loan shark. For more information, please visit www.stoploansharks.uk”
Cllr Susan Barker, Essex County Council’s Cabinet Member with a responsibility for Trading Standards, said:
“We are extremely grateful to the work of the Illegal Money Lending Team in Essex. Today’s sentencing sends a clear message that carrying out consumer credit activities without the correct permissions will not be tolerated.
“Loan sharking has an extremely detrimental impact on communities and we hope today’s outcome demonstrates the commitment of partners in pursuing those engaged in this unlawful activity.
“We encourage anyone who is being targeted by an unlicensed money lender to come forward and report in confidence.”
Upon sentencing Paul Gladman, His Honour Judge JS Seely said:
“Your conduct during this time as an unregulated money lender fell far short of a regulated money lender. The offence is very serious in itself and it was serious offending over a lengthy period. Borrowers may be in desperate financial straits and vulnerable to unscrupulous lenders.”
A Proceeds of Crime Act investigation into Gladman’s ill-gotten gains has been launched.
Nationally, Illegal Money Lending Teams have secured more than 382 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to nearly 329 years’ worth of custodial sentences. They have written off £73.7 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 28,000 people.
To report a loan shark:
Call the 24/7 confidential hotline 0300 555 2222
Text a report to 078600 22116
Visit the website www.stoploansharks.co.uk
Private message us on www.facebook.com/stoploansharksproject