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Consumer finance

It's one of those times where there is double take. Are you reading it right? A Court has said it will not approve an agreed settlement between a financial institution and a regulator? Oh, OK, it must be that the Court thought that the penalty was too light and he's sent the parties away to decide how much more should be paid, or perhaps penalties beyond money should be added?

No, that's not it. It's far more fascinating than that.

(previous story)

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What're the odds? Statistically, and logically, there are some things that should not happen, especially when a series of conditions must be met. Think how hard it is to get a rollover of selecting the winner of six horse-races in a row, for example. How can it be, then, that there are so many in-debt young people who attended college but don't have their degrees or whatever? The answer lies in a series of mismanagement decisions over a period of years at all levels of government in the USA. And it could easily happen anywhere else, too.

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Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has announced that in an agreed settlement before the Federal Court, Australian financial services group Westpac will pay a civil penalty of AUD35 million after admitting breaches of Australia's responsible lending rules. The door-of-the-court settlement avoids a lengthy trial that should have started yesterday.

*** Update: see Westpac's new best friend? Australian Federal Court rejects settlement with regulator ***

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One would think that, after the revelation that more than GBP1,000 million had been collected by form fillers providing entirely unnecessary services for those claiming PPI refunds, the market would have died. Maybe you'd have thought that the action against those pretending to be official websites would have discouraged others from doing something similar. And, of course, there's law that spamming individuals is a crime. Welcome to Magnetise Media Ltd which says it's registered by the Claims Management Regulator and listed by the Ministry of Justice. Hopefully Trading Standards and the Information Commissioner have files, too.

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Sixty-four year old Dharam Prakash Gopee has been convicted of being an illegal money lender. At Southwark Crown Court in London last week he was sentenced to three and a half years in jail. But it's the Financial Conduct Authority's action that makes the case interesting.

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Yes, yes, we know. Commonwealth Bank's got its problems over a failure to properly design and implement an automatic system and for not acting on the reports it did produce. But that's not the only thing bad that's happening down at the bank that has more short-forms of its name than we can keep up with. CBA, Commonwealth, CB, CommBank... so much for the usual rule of construction that if it's called something different, it is something different.

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UK consumer borrowing spurts as consumers treat plastic like cash in their pocket. And the Bank of England fears banks may not be holding enough in reserve to cover losses when the inevitable defaults start to grow. But there is also a change in the psychology of card users.

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More than 15,000 customers of BMW Financial Services, Mini Financial Services and Alphera Financial Services are to be compensated for serious failures in the group's business practices, which caused genuine hardship in some cases, says the Australian regulator, ASIC. The scale of the Order is jaw dropping.

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The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), which federally regulates a wide range of businesses, has cancelled the credit licence of S & S Enterprises Pty Ltd, trading as appliance rental business Rent To Own Appliances.

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