A Pinoy couple ran an illegal money lending business for nurses in the NHS and health workers from their home in Torquay, a court has been told.
Nardo and Theodora Bacquain loaned money to members of the Filipino community living in England. The couple claimed they were helping hard-up Filipinos to borrow money for their health and education within a ‘Filipino community honours system’ they were familiar with, which probably means they were lending them money to send home to their family in the Philippines.
One borrower told the court, the couple would take re-payments from him but did not tell him how much he owed and they took his passport as security, when he stopped making repayments in protest he was paid a visit and demands for payment were made.
The Crown Court in Exeter was told the exact amount of money involved in the loan business over 8 years was unknown. Much of the money is thought to have been sent home to the Philippines.
Illegal Money Lending Team investigators said the pair advanced cash of at least £172,000 and received at least £225,000 in return.
The judge described 40-year-old Mrs Bacquain, as the brains behind the loan empire, she had £295,000 of unexplained deposits in her bank account. Her 45-year-old husband who only worked as a catalogue agent had another £115,000 of unexplained money in his account.
The Filipino couple each pleaded guilty to all 4 charges of unlawfully engaging in an activity of consumer credit without a licence and 1 of unlawfully engaging in money lending without the proper authority.
Simon Mortimer Prosecutor said the couple had started the business in 2005 while living in Walthamstow, North East, London before they moved to Torquay. He also said, “It’s clear that Mrs Bacquain was the driving force and admits the collection of payments and arranging loans.” He said Mr Bacquain operated on a lower level but still talked to customers collected payments and had the money paid into his account.
The vast majority of the borrowers are from the Philippines and were mainly workers in the health industry, either in hospitals or care homes.
Out of 58 people identified only one come forward with evidence of the illegal activity.
The couple’s East Pafford Avenue house was searched on April 22 last year. Mrs Bacquain was there at the time and she showed investigators the loan agreements.
Evidence from cell phones showed people asking about penalties for missing payments and how much they owed.
Prosecutors will try to get the money back through the courts using the Proceeds of Crime Act. However, it is thought much of it has gone to the Philippines.
It is believed the couple charged about 40% interest on their loans.
The defendants told police they did not think they had done anything wrong.
There was no suggestion the couple had used violence or made threats of violence to any borrowers.
The couple also claimed to be £20,000 in debt.
Illegal money lending is a serious matter in the UK as it tends to prey on vulnerable people who cannot obtain credit elsewhere.
Mrs Bacquain was jailed for 16 months, suspended for 18 months, with 12 months supervision, and told to do 180 hours of unpaid work. Her husband was given a 12-month suspended sentence, a year’s supervision and 100 hours of work.