Convicted illegal money lender imprisoned for failing to pay confiscation order

Illegal money lender, Dharam Prakash Gopee (70), has been sentenced to almost 8 years in prison for failing to pay a confiscation order.

In 2018, Mr Gopee was prosecuted by the Financial Conduct Authority and convicted of illegally lending to vulnerable people at high rates. He had sought to take their homes when they were unable to repay.

A confiscation order to deprive him of over £5m of criminal proceeds was made against Mr Gopee in December 2019. The judge warned him that he could serve up to 11 years in prison if he failed to pay.

Mr Gopee has unsuccessfully challenged this and associated orders on over 30 occasions. In July 2023, he was found to be a vexatious litigant by the Court of Appeal, which made an order preventing him from making any further civil claims without permission.

The City of London Magistrates’ Court decided on 9 February 2024 that Mr Gopee was wilfully refusing to cooperate with the confiscation order and that imprisonment was the only appropriate option to enforce the confiscation.

Steve Smart, Joint Executive Director of Enforcement and Market Oversight, said:

‘Confiscation proceedings are a key tool in our work to ensure those who take advantage of the vulnerable do not succeed in their criminal efforts at self-enrichment.

‘We welcome the Court’s decision to impose a significant further custodial sentence on Mr Gopee sending a clear message that non-payment is a serious matter and that the Courts will use all appropriate tools to enforce these orders.’

The sentence is designed to encourage payment and will be reduced if Mr Gopee pays towards his confiscation order. Even after his imprisonment, Mr Gopee will continue to be liable for the outstanding debt.

As part of this case, a compensation order was made which repaid the victims in full.

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