A post on a significant gas certificate/s.21 case will follow shortly, but for now a couple of news items…
Regulations have been made bringing the Homelessness Reduction Act into force on 3 April 2018. The Statutory Code of Guidance has not yet been released, so everyone will have to hope that there aren’t many changes from the draft code or the first couple of months will be fun…
The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 have been amended by the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 (though the amendments aren’t material for the validity of a s.21 notice issue).
Dharam Prakash Gopee was convicted for 3 and a half years, for two offences contrary to S.39(1) of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 of carrying on a consumer credit business without a licence between 17 August 2012 and 1 April 2014, and two offences contrary to S.23(1) of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 of carrying on regulated activities (regulated credit agreements) without authorisation or exemption between 31 March 2014 and 16 December 2016.
It turns out that Mr Gopee had already been found guilty of contempt of court in these proceedings. Twice.
Mr Gopee had already been banned from acting as a company director, having been disqualified on 5 May 2016 for the maximum period permissible of 15 years under the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986. A number of his companies have already been wound up in the public interest following proceedings by the Official Receiver, and he has also been the subject of a restraint order obtained by the FCA on 25 June 2015 under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
Following the lifting of a reporting restriction, we are now able to report that the FCA had to bring two sets of proceedings against Mr Gopee for contempt of court in relation to repeated breaches of that restraint order.
In April 2016, having denied various breaches – including failing to disclose assets, continuing to deal with assets, opening and using new accounts – Mr Gopee was found to be in contempt and imprisoned for a term of 18 months. He was released early by the court in September 2016 having promised to comply with the order. However, he went on to commit various additional breaches. Further proceedings were therefore brought against him, and on this second occasion, having admitted the new breaches he was imprisoned for a term of 15 months in October 2017, in the lead up to his criminal trial.
Mr Gopee continues to serve his 15 month term of imprisonment for contempt, and his sentence for the recent offences will begin after that term has been completed in June 2018.
The contempt will probably not come as surprise to anyone who watched the civil proceedings, where Mr Gopee was found to have failed to notify the Mercantile Court of all his county court cases (at least 427), despite the court’s order, and pursued cases that he had failed to notify to the Mercantile Court.
The FCA state that Gopee had registered some 1000 charges with the Land Registry. This should give the astonishing scale of Mr Gopee’s exploitation of desperate people in difficult circumstances.
The FCA have moved slowly, but this is their first prosecution of the sort. As with the Mercantile Court proceedings, justice may be slow, but it grinds small.
Mr Gopee now faces Proceeds of Crime Act asset confiscation proceedings.
And for the remaining charges (and indeed title) obtained by Gopee through his many companies? I presume these are a matter for the liquidators, but as they were obtained through unlawful loans, it is hard to see the liquidators remotely being able to rely on them.