A director of a Grantham taxi firm who ran an illegal money lending business was today (Tuesday) jailed for 12 months at Lincoln Crown Court.
Samuel Bromfield operated the unlicensed business for almost three years before being brought to justice.
Simon Mortimer, prosecuting, said that an investigation revealed that Bromfield loaned out £166,000 to a total of 105 customers between November 2011 and August 2014.
Mr Mortimer said: “It was a substantial business. The evidence demonstrated he was operating an oppressive regime of repayment and charges.
“The total amount loaned was just under £166,000. He received back in excess of £142,000. He gave out 943 loans to just over 100 individuals. The interest charged was usually 50 per cent of the capital advanced.”
Bromfield, who runs the Discount Cabs taxi firm in Grantham, later told police he loaned money to family, friends and colleagues.
Mr Mortimer told the court: “He said it was personal between them and him. He said he didn’t charge interest.”
The court was told that Bromfield was not licensed as a money lender and knew he would not be granted a licence because of past County Court judgements against him.
Bromfield, 60, of Ferry Lane, North Muskham, Nottinghamshire, admitted two charges of operating as an unauthorised money lender.
Judge Michael Heath, passing sentence, told him: “You were operating for two years and nine months as an illegal money lender in quite a big way.
“The whole purpose of regulating the lending of money is to ensure that stringent rules designed to protect vulnerable people from abuse are complied with.
“You knew very well that you needed a licence and you knew you wouldn’t get one because of your County Court judgements in the past.
“It is plain that this was a profitable, unlawful and illegal activity. The only sentences I can justify for these offences are immediate custodial sentences.”
Edward Cole, in mitigation, said that Bromfield’s taxi firm would be put risk if he received an immediate jail sentence.
Mr Cole said: “He was approached by people who wished to borrow money from him. Principally they were his employees. He thought he was helping people in need. Not every loan was advanced with interest.
“He doesn’t have a luxurious lifestyle. His primary motivation was to help people who came to him for help.”
After the hearing, Cath Williams of the England illegal money lending team, which brought the prosecution against Bromfield, said: “The authorisation regime exists to protect vulnerable people.
“This type of crime is massively under reported. Illegal money lenders can have a massive effect on people’s lives. We urge people to use our 24-hour hotline on 0300 555 2222 to report illegal money lenders so that we can investigate.”