The FCA has banned payday Lender WPPL (Wage Payment and Payday Loans Limited) as well as its director Andrew Barry Hart after he submitted evidence containing forged documents to the high court. Andrew Barry Hart who is the owner and sole director of WPPL has been banned from playing any role in the regulated financial services industry in the UK.
The FCA has also cancelled Wage Payment and Payday Loan Limited’s interim permission and denied the company’s application for authorisation and that of Andrew Barry Hart to become an approved person. According to the FCA’s decision notice on the matter, Hart has been managing the affairs of WPPL recklessly. Hart is also guilty of advancing a false case and supporting the case with sham or forged documents and evidence with full knowledge of his actions.
The FCA has banned Hart on the basis that he isn’t fit because he lacks integrity and competence. WPPL has been banned because the firm failed to meet the threshold for suitability and appropriate resources. Hart is the first ever senior manager in the UK consumer credit sector to be banned because of failing to comply with regulatory requirements since the FCA took over consumer credit regulatory roles back in April 2014. When making the decision to ban WPPL, the FCA relied on evidence linked to WPPL’s failure to cooperate fully with the Ombudsman in relation to complaints raised by WPPL’s customers.
According to Mark Steward, the FCA director of enforcement and market oversight, there is no place for firms like WPPL or senior managers like Andrew Barry Hart in a consumer credit market regulated by the FCA. Steward condemned the lack of requisite integrity and competence portrayed by firms like WPPL and managers like Mr. Hart because it undermines consumer protections and all other relevant regulatory obligations. According to Steward, the FCA will continue using its powers to tackle firms and senior managers who cross the line in an effort to protect innocent customers.
Background of WPPL woes
WPPL is a payday loan lender that offers payday loans under trading names; Payday Overdraft, Wagepayday and Doshloans. The firm acquired its Consumer Credit License on 13th January, 2010. Since April 2014, the firm had interim permission to participate in the consumer credit lending, broking and information services business. Mr. Hart is the sole owner, controller and sole director of Wage Payment and Payday Loans Limited parent company.
The FCA made an announced visit to WPPL on 21st August 2014 after receiving numerous complaints. Following this visit, the firm applied for VREQ which limited its ability to engage in outbound debt collection, request more CPA payments (from clients from whom the company had taken CPA payments previously relating to same loan agreements) and grant new loans/lending additional money pursuant to existing loan agreements. Under VREQ, WPPL was also required to maintain contact records with customers who initiated contact with the firm about repayment. As of July 2015, WPPL’s activities were limited to accepting customer-initiated payments in relation to consumer credit transactions.
Background of Mr. Hart Woes
The FCA conducted a thorough investigation on Mr. Hart and identified serious concerns in regards to his integrity and competence. According to the FCA, Mr. Hart has been managing WPPL recklessly in the past and failed to comply with regulatory requirements. Mr. Hart is guilty of contributing to numerous unfair business practices by the WPPL. He is also solely responsible for his firm’s failure to comply with regulatory requirements. Mr. Hart’s responsibility extends to failing to address improper business practices practiced by his firm after being fully aware of the existence of such practices.
The FCA has also found Mr. Hart guilty of incompetence because he failed to prevent his firm from breaching communications (between WPPL and its customers) in a manner that breached VREQ terms. Mr. Hart is also guilty for failing to take all the necessary measures to implement adequate policies and procedures as well as systems and controls to ensure that WPPL adequately dealt with customer complaints, trained its staff members adequately and ensured that all loan agreements entered into complied with relevant regulatory requirements.
The FCA’s final decision to ban Mr. Hart was inspired by his willingness to advance a false case and support it with forged documents and evidence with full knowledge of his actions.
WPPL’s interim permission has been cancelled because the firm failed to satisfy resources and suitability threshold conditions as well as the firm’s connection to Mr. Hart.