Usury: the lending or practice of lending money at an exorbitant interest rate.
Wonga is a company which fits this description exactly. Their interest rate is a cool 5853% per annum! They have recently come to a gentleman’s agreement, sorry a “Voluntary Requirement” with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), to write off the debts of 330000 customers, a move which will cost them £220million, or put another way £667 per customer. They have also agreed to waive the interest on another 45000 customers’ debts. The reason given by the FCA is “Wonga was not taking adequate steps to assess customers’ ability to meet repayments in a sustainable manner.” In other words they were handing out loans to poor people who had no way of repaying the debt. They would then “roll over” the loan plus interest into another loan, then “roll over” that one too, until the original debt had ballooned out of control. Then they would send out fake legal letters to bully their customers, 45000 at the last count. These are the actions of loan sharks.
But what has this got to do with David Cameron, our infallible leader? Adrian Beecroft has donated over £500000 to the tories, he is currently the chairman of venture capital Dawn Capital, the private equity fund which Wonga belongs to. He is also a government adviser and he produced the Beecroft Report which advocated the destruction of employees legal rights. When Vince Cable criticised the report Beecroft labelled him a socialist. This revolving door was also used by Jonathan Luff, former senior digital economy adviser to our Dear Leader himself who left the civil service for Wonga where is now a political lobbyist. All perfectly legal and above board old chap, and that obnoxious smell has nothing to do with corruption. Oh no, it is merely the smell of filthy lucre.
Another friend of the Dear Leader is Henry Angest, who gave the Conservative Party an overdraft facility of £5million with an attractive interest rate of 3.5%. Unlike the interest rates that his company Everyday Loans charges it’s customers, a cool 79.7%. Angest is also a party donor, but that’s ok. As our Divine Leader proclaimed this week at the tory jamboree, “Look, I have no problem giving honours to donors”. We will probably be seeing Lord Angest of Usury swathed in ermine quite soon.
With friends like these, is it any wonder that the tories haven’t regulated these despicable firms yet?