The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has decided to cancel interim permissions for Wage Payment and Payday Loans Limited (WPPL) because it is failing to satisfy the threshold conditions regarding appropriate resources and suitability, for reasons including its connection with its sole director, Andrew Barry Hart.
The regulator has also decided to prohibit Hart from performing any role in regulated financial services.
WPPL is a consumer credit firm that provides payday loans under the trading names ‘Payday Overdraft’, ‘Wage payday’ and ‘Doshloans’. Hart is the sole director, controller and ultimate owner of WPPL.
The FCA has found that Hart is not a fit and proper person because he lacks integrity and competence. In the FCA’s view, between 1 April 2014 and 28 August 2014, he took a reckless approach to managing WPPL and to complying with regulatory requirements. Mr Hart recklessly contributed to and failed to address unfair business practices carried on by WPPL.
Hart failed to take reasonable steps to implement appropriate policies and procedures relating to creditworthiness, affordability and forbearance. He also failed to take reasonable steps to ensure that WPPL had appropriate systems in place to communicate with customers, to ensure that customer complaints were dealt with adequately, to provide proper oversight of WPPL’s staff and to ensure that WPPL’s loan agreements complied with regulatory requirements.
Hart’s failings had a direct impact on WPPL’s customers, who were often treated unfairly and were frequently misled. Customer complaints were commonly disregarded, and excessive sums were taken out of some customers’ bank accounts. In some cases these practices caused financial loss to customers, many of whom were already in financial difficulties.
Hart and WPPL dispute the FCA’s decisions and have referred their cases to the Upper Tribunal (the Tribunal). Accordingly, the findings in these Decision Notices are provisional pending the Tribunal’s determination of Mr Hart and WPPL’s references. In relation to the FCA’s decisions to prohibit Mr Hart from any regulated role and cancel WPPL’s interim permission, the Tribunal will determine whether to dismiss the reference or remit it to the FCA with a direction to reconsider and reach a decision in accordance with the findings of the Tribunal. The Tribunal’s decisions will be published on its website.