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15 July 2016

Finance companies misled borrowers

Budget Loans and Evolution Finance guilty on 106 charges.

Two finance companies with businessmen Allan Hawkins and Wayne Hawkins as their directors have been found guilty of 106 charges brought by the Commerce Commission under the Fair Trading Act.

Budget Loans and Evolution Finance misled 18 people about their rights. The companies repossessed or threatened to repossess when they didn’t have the right. They added interest and costs to loan balances after borrowers’ property had been repossessed and sold, which is against the law. They told debtors to make repayments at a rate higher than that set by the court and gave a shorter time before repossession than allowed by law.

The companies purchased old loan books from failed finance companies, including National Finance and Western Bay Finance. Most of the loans were taken out between 2001 and 2006.

Budget advisers and community lawyers in Auckland alerted the commission to the behaviour.

The commission started the investigation into Budget Loans and Evolution Finance in 2012. Since then, repossession and borrowing laws have been strengthened.

Consumer NZ chief executive Sue Chetwin said "lenders can't get away with this type of bad behaviour. They have to act responsibly and ethically. So don't be bullied by them."

In 2010, Budget Loans admitted 34 charges of breaching the Fair Trading Act. It was charging interest and fees after repossessing and selling items used as security. It was fined $30,750 at the time.

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