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Page last updated at 09:45 GMT, Saturday, 16 May 2009 10:45 UK

Banned director runs loan firm

By Samantha Washington
BBC Radio 4's Money Box and BBC Radio 5 Live's Donal MacIntyre

The Yes Loans website
The company claims to process 50,000 applications each month

The UK's largest sub-prime loan broker is run by a man previously banned from being a company director for "serious misconduct", the BBC has found.

An exemption was granted for him to run Yes Loans - a decision a leading business charity says shows regulators are putting the public at risk.

The BBC has received over 1,000 complaints about the Wales-based company, Yes Loans, since 2004.

The company claims it is providing customers with a good service.

Yes Loans Ltd is a broker of unsecured loans which specialises in offering products to people who find it difficult to borrow elsewhere.

Complaints

Yes Loans claims to process 50,000 applications a month. But many customers say that if they decide not to go ahead, or no loan is found, it is difficult to get their initial fee back.

One customer Ahmed Zaghou said he was shocked at how he was treated when he asked for his refund after deciding not to go ahead with a loan he had applied for.

Ahmed
Ahmed Zaghou spent seven months chasing his refund

"I sent many letters. I spent many minutes on the phone on a hotline," he said. "And I finally got my refund back seven months later."

Not refunding money promptly is in breach of consumer regulations, according to the Consumer Action Group's founder Marc Gander:

"It's very clear under the Consumer Credit Act 1974 - and also Distant Marketing Regulations - that money has to be returned promptly."

Yes Loans said it receives very few complaints relative to its large customer base and that it has taken steps to improve customer service.

Expired licence

Following regulations is essential if a company is to have a consumer credit licence.

A BBC investigation has discovered that Yes Loans' licence expired in June 2008.

But the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), which issues licences, has allowed the company to continue trading before it decides whether to issue a renewal of the licence.

The OFT told the BBC that it has investigated Yes Loans and is working with them to resolve issues.

Directorship ban

The BBC has also learned that one of Yes Loans' company directors is still serving a 10-year ban from being a director.

Keith Chorlton received the ban in the year 2000 after he diverted cash from an insolvent business into his personal bank account.

At a subsequent court case, his credibility was questioned by the judge who found that a document produced by Mr Chorlton was "not authentic".

Despite this, Mr Chorlton obtained an exemption from that ban in 2008, allowing him to become a company director of several businesses, including Yes Loans.

Serious questions need to be asked according to the Institute of Business Ethics research director, Simon Webley.

"It doesn't seem right that a person who has been a director and has been disqualified should be a director of any business. And particularly the ones where he now seems to be involved - in the financial services sector."

Yes Loans and Mr Chorlton's lawyers deny any breach of consumer regulations.

Y3S Loans - based in Cardiff - formerly named Yes Loans and Mortgages, are in no way, shape or form associated with Keith Chorlton's company Yes Loans UK, based in Cwmbran.


BBC Radio 4's Money Box will be broadcast on Saturday, 16 May at 1204 BST. Download the free podcast.

And you can hear more on BBC Radio 5 Live's Donal MacIntyre show, which is broadcast on Sunday, 17 May 2009 at 1900 BST. Download the free podcast.



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