Hackney man convicted of illegal money lending

A Hackney-based loan shark has been prosecuted following a joint operation between Hackney Trading Standards and the London Trading Standards Illegal Money Lending Team.

Noorruddin Moosa Ghanchi, aged 71, of Jenner Road, Hackney, pleaded guilty to illegally lending over £136,120 pounds over a 4 and a half year period to more than 20 victims.

Sentencing Mr Ghanchi, His Honour Judge Kennedy said that those who lend money illegally cause enormous distress to borrowers, which is why civilized societies down the ages have restricted money lending and imposed limits on the interest charged by those who do. Mr Ghanchi was fined £500 and ordered to pay £2500 in costs.

This is the first prosecution brought by the Illegal Money Lending Team which was set up with money from the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform in January 2008. It was launched in Hackney, Newham and Tower Hamlet by London Trading Standards Authorities (LoTSA), the umbrella body which co-ordinates London-wide Trading Standards campaigns.

The undercover team gathers intelligence on money lending operations, working with the council’s trading standards, the police and other enforcement agencies, to prosecute illegal lenders.

To date, the team’s work has helped more than 540 victims and prevented the payment of illegal loans totaling over £1.6 million pounds. More than 40 loan sharks have been identified and ten have been arrested, with cases due to appear before the courts in the near future.

Cllr Alan Laing, Hackney Council’s Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods said: “Loan sharks are criminals who exploit vulnerable people. People turn to them in a crisis, then find that their situation is much, much worse, with often crippling rates of interest and even threats and violence if somebody can’t pay.”

Anyone worried about paying their bills should contact the credit union or Capitalise for money advice and report them lending task force.

To report a loan shark call (confidential 24 hours) to 0300 555 2222