By Daniel Hunter

Reddy Corporation Limited (Reddy) - a second charge lender based in Forest Hill - has had its credit licence revoked by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).

The licence was revoked after companies associated with Reddy and its owner, Mr Dharam Prakash Gopee ('Mr Gopee'), were found to have engaged in widespread unlicensed trading.

They were also found to have engaged in unfair and improper business practices, including entering into credit agreements which were not in the correct legal form. For example, the agreements did not include all the information required to make sure consumers were aware of the risks and obligations they were taking on, including the necessary information on charges that were payable.

Consumers who have entered into agreements with companies associated with Mr Gopee should seek advice on the enforceability of such agreements from a legal representative or service, such as Citizens Advice.

The associated businesses included Ghana Commercial Bunks Limited (now known as Ghana Commercial Finance Limited), Barons Finance Limited and Barons Bridging Finance plc. Another associated business, Barons Bridging Finance 1 Limited, also had its application for a licence refused.

The appeals process expired on 18 August 2012 and Reddy no longer has a consumer credit licence and can no longer provide credit to consumers.

Second charge loans, or 'homeowner loans', involve consumers with an existing mortgage taking out further personal borrowing secured against their home. Firms offering such loans must be licensed by the OFT. Defaulting on a second charge loan can ultimately lead to repossession of a borrower's property and, as such, it is considered to be high-risk under the OFT's approach to regulation.

"Reddy and businesses associated with it were found to be treating the requirements of the Consumer Credit Act as discretionary and were engaging in widespread unlicensed trading," Kate Pitt, OFT Deputy Director of Credit, said.

"This behavior does not demonstrate the competence and integrity we require of businesses that offer credit to consumers."

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