A LOAN shark from Chelmsford has been ordered to repay over £100,000 of his ill-gotten gains.
Paul Gladman, 54, of West Avenue, was handed a six-month prison sentence, suspended for 2 years and a six-month curfew after pleading guilty to illegal money lending offences on March 19.
Following a confiscation hearing at Chelmsford Crown Court last Friday (September 28), Gladman was ordered to pay back £60,315 under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA). He has 3 months to pay the full amount or face 18 months in prison for default.
In addition to his confiscation order, the loan shark was also ordered to pay £40,000 in prosecution costs.
The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) brought the case against Paul Gladman after officers, working in partnership with Essex County Council Trading Standards and Essex Police, searched his home and business premises in Boreham on September 13, 2016 and seized almost £6,000 in cash and documents containing evidence of illegal money lending.
At an earlier hearing, prosecutor Stuart Jessop told the court that the defendant had been running an illegal money lending business since June 2015. He had previously been licensed under his father’s business to carry out consumer credit activities but failed to apply for interim permission when regulations changed from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in April 2014.
An IMLT investigation was launched after Paul Gladman failed to apply for permission from the FCA and continued to issue loans and collect money from debtors.
A financial investigation into the defendant’s illegal activities revealed that he was charging victims up to 50% interest on loans and adding penalty surcharges for late and missed payments.
During the time he was operating his illegal money lending scheme, Gladman issued 185 loans and collected over £106,000 from approximately 50 victims.
Tony Quigley, Head of the Illegal Money Lending Team, said:
“The Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) ensures that loan sharks like Paul Gladman are not profiting from deceitful illegal money lending activity. This result sends a strong message that loan sharks who are caught flouting the law will be prosecuted and stripped of their available assets.
“Loan sharking is an awful crime and will not be tolerated in Essex. We urge victims to contact us in confidence on 0300 555 2222 and help us bring these unscrupulous lenders to justice.”
Cllr Sue Lissimore, 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. This result sends a clear message that carrying out consumer credit activities without the correct permissions will not be tolerated in our county.
“Loan sharking has an extremely detrimental impact on communities and we hope this 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 it in confidence.”
During sentencing, 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.”
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