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Loan sharks ordered to pay £1.2m – the largest confiscation order for 14 years

Two loan sharks have been told to hand over £1.2 million in one of the largest ever Proceeds of Crime confiscation orders for the England Illegal Money Lending Team.

Luz Guerra Villar, aged 67, and 71-year-old Leticia Manipol were given suspended jail sentences in 2021 after admitting illegal money lending and money laundering charges.

Kingston Crown Court heard the two women, of Church Lane, Tooting, had lent over £4.2 million to fellow Filipinos across South London, many of whom worked at a London hospital. They operated over a 16-year period.

The case was back before the court on Tuesday, April 16, when Judge Marcus Tregilgas-Davey heard the pair had benefited to the tune of £1.2 million between them.

They were each given a confiscation order for £600,000, which must be paid within three months or they could face a jail term of up to six years.

Back in 2021, Villar was sentenced to 18 months in custody, suspended for two years and ordered to carry out 220 hours of unpaid work. Manipol was given a 15-month sentence, also suspended for two years, with 200 hours of unpaid work.

At that hearing, Recorder Caspar Glyn QC said the offences were ‘very serious’ matters and there was ‘high culpability’.

The case was prosecuted by the England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT), in partnership with the London Borough of Merton, Richmond upon Thames & Wandsworth Regulatory Services Partnership and the Metropolitan Police.

Officers from the IMLT executed a warrant at the defendants’ home in 2019. Cash and electronic devices were seized, along with books and ledgers indicating that around £4.2 million had been given out in loans.

Examinations of electronic devices revealed dozens of messages which referenced loans, including requests for loans, penalties for missing payments and apologies for non-payment.

The amount is the largest confiscation order given to a convicted loan shark in England since 2010, when an illegal lender in Manchester was also ordered to pay £1.2 million.

Head of the IMLT, Tony Quigley said: “This is a fantastic result and once again shows that illegal money lending really doesn’t pay.

“Illegal lenders are often living a life of luxury while the people who have borrowed from them are left to struggle. It is only right that these criminals are not only prosecuted but are last made to pay back at least some of their ill-gotten gains.

“Action like this hits these people where it hurts, in the pocket. It is fitting that some of this money will go towards the IMLT’s work to tackle illegal lending in England.”

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the IMLT. Since its launch, the team has supported over 31,500 people and written off over £91.2 million worth of illegal debt, securing over 418 prosecutions for illegal money lending, leading to 598 years in jail.

Anyone who has been affected by illegal money lending should call the Stop Loan Sharks 24/7 Helpline on 0300 555 2222 or access support online at www.stoploansharks.co.uk. Live Chat is available on the website from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

See our video of LIAISE Team manager Cath talking about the case here.