Donegal Finance Limited, recently featured in Channel 4 series The Repo Man, has credit licence suspended ‘to urgently protect consumers’
The Office of Fair Trading has made the first use of new powers allowing it to instantly suspend a lender’s credit licence, closing down a firm which recently appeared on a Channel 4 documentary in a move it said was “urgently necessary to protect consumers”.
Since February, the OFT has been able to stop a lender from trading where it believed there was the possibility of serious consumer detriment; prior to that it had to go through lengthy legal procedures before any action could be taken.
It took the action against a Staffordshire-based firm called Donegal Finance Limited (DFL), which made loans and ran credit brokerage and debt collection operations through three arms: Donegal Finance, Donegal Investigations and Donegal Recovery.
In May, the head of Donegal Investigations, Sean James, was featured on a short Channel 4 series called The Repo Man, which followed his work as a bailiff. The company’s website says it takes “a no holds barred approach when collecting assets, if you want a job doing right then we are your men”, and claims to have recovered more than 60,000 cars “some times [sic] pulling in 10-20 cars a day”.
The suspension means it is now a criminal offence for DFL or any of its directors, employees or agents to engage in any of these activities using DFL’s licence.
An OFT spokesman said: “Our decision demonstrates that we will not hesitate to use our new power to suspend a licence when it is urgently necessary to protect consumers from risk of immediate harm.”
In February, the charity Citizens Advice called for the OFT to use its powers to suspend four payday lenders, but Donegal Finance was not one of the companies it named to the regulator.
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