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Missouri AG Koster shuts down predatory payday loans | SEMO TIMES

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Attorney General Chris Koster announced yesterday that he has obtained an agreement with eight online payday loan operations to shut down payday loan operations in Missouri, provide $270,000 in consumer restitution, and erase all loan balances for Missouri consumers.

Koster said Martin A. “Butch” Webb acted through numerous business entities operating from a Native American reservation in South Dakota, including Payday Financial, Western Sky Financial, Lakota Cash, Great Sky Finance, Red Stone Financial, Big Sky Cash, Lakota Cash, and Financial Solutions, none of which were licensed to do business in Missouri. These businesses sold short-term loans with exorbitant fees and forced consumers to agree to have their future wages garnished without going through the court system as required by Missouri law.

The Attorney General’s Office received 57 complaints from consumers who were collectively charged approximately $25,000 in excess fees. The Attorney General’s investigation subsequently discovered as many as 6,300 other Missourians who may have also been charged excessive fees. One Missouri consumer was charged a $500 origination fee on a $1,000 loan, which was immediately rolled into the principal of the loan. She was charged 194 percent APR and eventually paid more than $4,000.

“These predatory lending businesses operated in the shadows, taking advantage of Missourians through outrageous fees and unlawful garnishments,” said Koster. “Webb may have thought that by operating on tribal land he could avoid compliance with our state’s laws. He was wrong.”

Under Missouri law, a payday lender cannot charge “origination” or other such fees in excess of 10 percent of the loan, up to a maximum of $75.

The judgment obtained by Koster permanently prohibits Webb or any of his businesses from making or collecting on any loans in Missouri, and it cancels existing loan balances for his Missouri customers. Webb must also instruct credit reporting agencies to remove all information previously supplied to them about specific consumers. In addition, Webb must pay $270,000 in restitution to consumers and $30,000 in penalties to the state.

Consumers who, while living in Missouri, paid excess origination fees to one of the companies listed above—even if the loan was later sold to a third party—may be eligible to receive restitution under the terms of the judgment. The Attorney General’s office will be contacting eligible consumers.

“My hope is that every Missouri consumer who took out a short-term loan with these companies gets back what they were charged in excess of Missouri law,” said Koster. “The message to online payday lenders is clear: follow Missouri law or you won’t be doing business in our state.”


easyhome Ltd. Enters into Agreement to Acquire Cash Store Locations

MISSISSAUGA, ONTARIO–(Marketwired – Jan 18, 2015) – easyhome Ltd. (EH.TO) (“easyhome“), the Canadian leader in providing goods and financial services to the cash and credit constrained consumer, today announced that its subsidiary, easyfinancial Services Inc. (“easyfinancial” or the “Company”), has entered into a binding agreement (the “Agreement”) to purchase the lease rights and obligations for up to 47 retail locations across Canada, together with certain related assets at certain locations (the “Transaction”) from The Cash Store Financial Services Inc. (“Cash Store”). Upon completion of the Transaction, these retail locations will be opened as new easyfinancial branches providing consumer loans to Canadian consumers.

easyfinancial submitted its proposal in accordance with Cash Store’s secondary sale process conducted under Cash Store’s proceeding under the Companies Creditors Arrangement Act (Canada). The Agreement and the completion of the Transaction remain subject to Court approval in Canada and the satisfaction of certain closing conditions customary to transactions of this nature. The Company anticipates closing the Transaction within the first quarter of 2015.

Under the terms of the Agreement, easyfinancial will assume the lease rights and obligations for up to 32 retail locations currently occupied by Cash Store immediately upon closing, subject to, among other conditions, Court approval. Additionally, the Company will also assume the lease rights and obligations for up to a further 15 retail locations currently occupied by Cash Store upon successful negotiation of lease extension or new agreements with the relevant landlords. The purchase price will not be disclosed until the Transaction closes.

“We are excited by the opportunity to acquire additional locations in Canada,” said David Ingram, easyhome‘s President and Chief Executive Officer. “This acquisition will allow us to accelerate our retail footprint at easyfinancial as we were able to carefully select the best locations to match our unfilled targeted geography. The timing aligns very well as consumer demand for an alternative to banks and payday loans has grown significantly over the last 12 months and these branches will provide further access and convenience.”

“In addition, the leading macro indicators that influence our customers’ financial health are progressively improving,” continued Mr. Ingram. “The price of gas has reduced, food and clothing inflation is minimal and employment levels are returning to pre-recession levels.”

Impact on earnings

The Company expects the Transaction to be accretive to earnings over the long term, as it accelerates loan book growth and provides further economies of scale. As a result of the Transaction, easyfinancial will increase its 2015 new easyfinancial openings from 40-45 to 60-65 branches and the loan book target for 2015 will increase from $260-$270 million to $280-$295 million. In the short term, the new store drag associated with the incremental 20 store openings is expected to reduce earnings per share in 2015 by approximately $0.10, but increase earnings per share by approximately $0.15 in 2016 and add $0.25 in 2017.

About easyhome

easyhome Ltd. is the Canadian leader in providing goods and financial services to the cash and credit constrained consumer. easyhome Ltd. serves its customers under the master brand goeasy through its two key operating divisions, easyhome Leasing and easyfinancial. easyhome Leasing is Canada’s largest merchandise leasing Company, offering top quality, brand-name household furnishings, appliances and home electronic products to consumers under weekly or monthly leasing agreements through both corporate and franchise stores. easyfinancial is a leading provider of consumer loans as an alternative to traditional banks and payday lenders. easyhome Ltd. is listed on the TSX under the symbol ‘EH’. For more information, visit

Forward-Looking Statements

This news release includes forward-looking statements about easyhome Ltd., including its business operations, strategy and expected financial performance and condition. Forward-looking statements include statements that are predictive in nature, depend upon or refer to future events or conditions, or include words such as ‘expects’, ‘anticipates’, ‘intends’, ‘plans’, ‘believes’ or negative versions thereof and similar expressions. In addition, any statement that may be made concerning future financial performance (including revenue, earnings or growth rates), ongoing business strategies (including number of new store openings) or prospects about future events is also a forward-looking statement. Forward- looking statements are based on certain factors and assumptions, including expected growth, results of operations and business prospects and are inherently subject to, among other things, risks, uncertainties and assumptions about our operations, economic factors, the industry generally and estimated costs and business opportunities associated with the proposed acquisition and integration of the new locations. They are not guarantees of future performance, and actual events and results could differ materially from those expressed or implied by forward-looking statements made by us, due to, but not limited to important factors such as our ability to enter into new lease and/or financing agreements, collect on existing lease and/or financing agreements, open new locations on favourable terms, secure new franchised locations, purchase products which appeal to our customers at a competitive rate, cope with changes in legislation, react to uncertainties related to regulatory actions, raise capital under favourable terms, manage the impact of litigation (including shareholder litigation), control costs at all levels of the organization and maintain and enhance our system of internal controls. We caution that the foregoing list is not exhaustive. The reader is cautioned to consider these and other factors carefully and not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements, which may not be appropriate for other purposes. We are under no obligation (and expressly disclaim any such obligation) to update or alter the forward-looking statements whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, unless otherwise required by law.


New Mexico urged to limit ‘payday’ loan rates



MARTIN: Encouraged by some developments

One of the worst things a person without the financial wherewithal to repay a loan can do is take out a so-called “payday” or “storefront” loan to buy Christmas gifts.

But, with the holidays here, and because it is so easy to get such loans, that’s exactly what many low-income people are likely to do. Predatory lenders encourage the practice.

That’s the message University of New Mexico law professor Nathalie Martin hopes to get out to would-be borrowers. She would also like to see interest rates capped statewide at 36 percent.

“I think it’s getting a little more likely that the state Legislature will act,” she said.

Martin – and others – are encouraged by a number of developments:

In 2007, with broad bipartisan support, President Bush signed the Military Lending Act, placing a 36 percent limit on interest rates on loans to armed forces personnel. In September, with lenders seeking to circumvent the MLA, the Defense Department proposed new and stronger regulations to shore up the law. The cities of Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Alamogordo and Las Cruces, and Doña Ana County – and the New Mexico Municipal League and Association of Counties – have adopted resolutions supporting a 36 percent annual percentage rate cap. Eighteen states have imposed interest rate limits of 36 percent or lower, most of them in recent years. In Georgia, it is now a crime to charge exorbitant interest on loans to people without the means to pay them back. In 2007, New Mexico enacted a law capping interest rates on “payday” loans at 400 percent. Many of the lenders quickly changed the loan descriptions from “payday” to “installment,” “title” or “signature” to get around the law.

But this past summer, the New Mexico Supreme Court, citing studies by Martin, held that “signature” loans issued by B&B Investment Group were “unconscionable.” B&B’s interest rates were 1,000 percent or higher.

High-interest lenders argue that they provide a much-needed source of funds for people who would not ordinarily qualify for loans, even those who are truly in need. One lender, Cash Store, in an ad typical for the industry promises borrowers that they can get “cash in hand in as little as 20 minutes during our regular business hours – no waiting overnight for the money you need” and boasts a loan approval rate of over 90 percent. It also offers “competitive terms and NO credit required. Be treated with respect by friendly store associates. Installment loans are a fast, easy way to get up to $2,500.”

Pushing a cap

Martin teaches commercial and consumer law. She also works in the law school’s “live clinic,” where she first came into contact with those she calls “real-life clients,” people who had fallen into the trap of payday loans.

“I would never have thought in my wildest dreams that this was legal, interest rates of 500 percent, 1,000 percent or even higher,” she said.

Martin is not alone in fighting sky-high interest rates and supporting a 36 percent cap.

Assistant Attorney General Karen Meyers of the Consumer Protection Division noted that it wasn’t simply interest rates that the Supreme Court unanimously objected to as procedurally unconscionable in New Mexico v. B&B Investment Group.

The court also addressed the way the loans were marketed and the fact that B&B “aggressively pursued borrowers to get them to increase the principal of their loans,” all of which constitutes a violation of law.

In another lawsuit from 2012, New Mexico v. FastBucks, the judge found the loans to be “Unfair or deceptive trade practices and unconscionable trade practices (which) are unlawful.”

Long legal road

Both the B&B and Fastbucks cases were filed in 2009 and ultimately went to trial. The time period indicates the commitment of the Attorney General’s Office and how long it takes a case to wend its way through the legal system.

Each of the cases dealt with one business entity, although they often do business under several names. B&B, for example, an Illinois company, operated as Cash Loans Now and American Cash Loans.

According to the president of B&B, James Bartlett, the company came to New Mexico to do business because “there was no usury cap” here.

Early this year, a survey by Public Policy Polling found that 86 percent of New Mexicans support capping interest at an annual rate of 36 percent. Many people think that is too high.

Meyers said predatory lending profits depend on repeat loans. Analysts estimate that the business only becomes profitable when customers have rolled over their loans four or five times.

‘Really heartbreaking’

“We have interviewed a lot of consumers,” she said. “It’s really heartbreaking.”

Steve Fischman, a former state senator and chairman of the New Mexico Fair Lending Coalition, said three-fourths of short-term borrowers in the state roll over loans into new loans, which is precisely what predatory lenders want.

“New Mexico is one of the worst states when it comes to such loans, because we have the weakest law,” he said.

The coalition is working with lawmakers to draft a bill that would impose the 36 percent cap. It is likely to come up in the next session. But the chances of passage, despite popular sentiment, are unknown.

The Legislature has failed to act in the past, Fischman said, largely because of the many paid lobbyists – including former lawmakers – working for the lenders. He described the Roundhouse back-slapping as “bipartisan corruption.”

The National Institute on Money in State Politics, a nonpartisan national archive of such donations, reports that, thus far this year, payday lenders have made 122 contributions totalling $97,630 to state lawmakers.

Opponents of storefront loans say one way some lenders entice the poor into taking out loans is to cajole them with smiles and misinformation. Loan offices – often in lower-income neighborhoods – often become places for people to hang out and socialize. Agents behind the loan office desks pass themselves off as friends.

But, Fischman said, “A lot of people thought Bernie Madoff was their friend.”

Creating crises

The Pew Charitable Trust and the Center for Responsible Lending, acting independently, reported last year that the cost of the loans turn temporary financial shortfalls into long-term crises. After rolling their initial loans over, perhaps more than once, borrowers find that they’re paying up to 40 percent of their paychecks to repay the loans.

Prosperity Works, an Albuquerque-based nonprofit striving to improve financial circumstances for lower-income New Mexicans, is a strong supporter of the effort to cap loans.

President and CEO Ona Porter said one drawback of the short-term, high-interest loans is the effect they often have on individuals’ credit ratings. “And credit scores are now used as a primary screen for employment,” she said.

The loans do little, if anything, to boost the state’s economy. A 2013 study by the Center for Community Economic Development found that, for every dollar spent on storefront loan fees, 24 cents is subtracted from economic activity.

UNM’s Martin has conducted five studies related to high-cost lending practices. She firmly believes that low-income people are better off if they don’t take out unlimited numbers of high-cost loans and that such forms of credit cause more harm than good.

“They are neither safe nor affordable,” she said.


Payday loan brokers help themselves to UK savers' accounts …

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Payday loan brokers help themselves to UK savers’ accounts, customers outraged

Published time: October 29, 2014 18:21 Get short URL

AFP Photo/Carl Court






Corporate news











Brokers linked to payday loan companies may be raiding the bank accounts of over 1 million Britons, with many being the poorest in society, the UK’s biggest banks have warned.

Natwest, one of the largest retail banking chains in Britain, said it was “inundated” with complaints from customers.

Victims claimed that brokerages, offering deals on payday loans – short term loans with very high fixed rates of interest – are extracting sums of £50 to £70 from savings accounts without informing customers first.

According to Natwest customers, the businesses are websites that offer to find payday loan deals online. However, buried in the small print is a tacit agreement that brokers can access the bank accounts at any time.

Natwest, who told the Guardian that they had received up to 640 complaints a month regarding payday brokerage websites, said the majority of customers affected were financially vulnerable, and in many cases were already severely overdrawn.

READ MORE: Usury illusion: UK borrowers turn to payday loans despite govt crackdown

The brokerage websites have also been accused of sharing financial information with other businesses without consent, and charging an additional levy for its services on top of the huge rates of interest slapped onto standard payday loans, which can be more than 3,000 percent.

“We’ve seen large numbers of customers incurring charges they don’t expect when using a payday loan broker since July this year,” said Terry Lawson, head of fraud and chargeback operations at the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) group, which includes Natwest and Ulster Bank.

“Customers’ account or debit card details are gathered and sent on to up to 200 other brokers and lenders who charge them fees for a loan application,” he added.

READ MORE: Toxic finance: Reckless payday lender Wonga wipes mountain of debt

The news comes as thousands of customers who took loans with controversial payday loan company Wonga are to have their debts written off, in an action expected to cost the legal loan shark more than £200mn.

The UK’s financial watchdog, the Financial Conduct Authority, said Wonga did not do enough to vet customers and their ability to pay back the interest incurred on loans, which can be higher than 5,000 percent.

As a result, a large number of Wonga customers were forced to admit they were unable to pay the company back after taking out a short-term loan.


Speed kingpin 'couldn't remember' when he buried cash

A SPEED kingpin has claimed almost all of the $1 million cash he buried in bundles across his Mooloolah Valley property came from lucrative pizza and car businesses.

William Fredericis Barker, 50, told the Brisbane Supreme Court he could not remember when he buried the packages, but testified at his contested sentence that they were cash reserves from businesses that he ceased operating about 1997 and 2007.

The court heard the majority of the 656 notes picked randomly from 20,083 notes uncovered during a police search were manufactured in 2008 and 2009.

Justice Peter Flanagan said the suggestion the buried cash – totalling $995,250 – were from old businesses “seems to beggar belief”.

“I don’t accept your client’s evidence in relation to the cash reserves from the pizza business or from the car business. I don’t believe him,” he said.

Police found cash – many stacks cryovacked and then carefully wrapped in duct tape – beneath shipping containers, inside wall cladding, in shopping bags buried inside a plastic drum and inside other items.

Barker pleaded guilty to drug trafficking with four key customers on-selling to people in the Bundaberg, Warwick and Sunshine Coast regions.

Under questioning from his own barrister Tony Kimmins about “skimming” cash from those businesses, Barker said he ended the Pizza Hut businesses in about 1997 and was then unemployed for about a year.

Barker said he then ran a car sales business for about 12 years but sold the land for $2.3 million in December, 2007.

He agreed he was selling speed for $3000 an ounce during the six months police were monitoring him but refused to accept he was trafficking much longer than that.

Crown prosecutor Sarah Farnden suggested police did not find all the cash Barker had hidden on his property.

She recited an alleged conversation where he was bragging about having more buried.

“I don’t recall,” he said.

It was a popular phrase for him throughout the day.

“It may well have but, you know, I didn’t, I could have, I can’t, I can’t give you a straight answer to that cos I don’t actually recall,” he said when asked about whether the cash was buried in 2008-09.

Ms Farnden submitted that Barker was deliberately vague about his conduct before police phone intercepts and that his evidence about obtaining cash from a legitimate source could not be accepted.

Barker said a $100,000 cheque from co-accused Paul Stainer, who was sentenced to 11 years jail, was the return of a loan, not drugs.

“You needed to lend someone money who had a $5 million drug trafficking business going?” Ms Farnden asked.

“He had a few properties and financial difficulty, I was lending him money. I’ve known the bloke for 20 years,” Barker said.

Stepson Ben Henderson, who said he considered Barker his father, told the court he woke up every morning to his mum and “Bill” counting cash at breakfast that he assumed were takings from the pizza businesses.

Stepdaughter Irini Hondroudkis said the kids were told not to use the dryer and when they looked inside they found a huge amount of cash.

Barker tried to argue no more than $200,000 of the cash was from drug trafficking.

Justice Flanagan found the trafficking period was at least from July 1, 2008, to April 22, 2009, and he could infer the bulk of the cash found on the property and the $1.8 million unexplained income was from drug trafficking.

“There was a close-knit fully operational criminal syndicate,” he said.

“It would stagger belief that the period of trafficking did not commence months before the telephone intercepts.”

Justice Flanagan, noting the way the cash was maintained, said he doubted Barker would have “gone to the steps which he did for the purpose of secreting money” from the tax office as his defence had suggested.

Barker accepted his drug trafficking must have begun “a few months” before police intercepts in October 2008.



Finding a new car loan while in bankruptcy


Dear Dr. Don,
Where can I get a car loan for a new vehicle while in bankruptcy? My trustee has advised me to look for a vehicle and I have done that. But the dealers won’t work with lenders in my case and they all want a cashier’s check or cash. So do you have a name of a lender that would be willing to finance me?

— Helen Hindrance

Compare Best Auto Loan Rates!

Dear Helen,
As you may know, an individual in Chapter 13 bankruptcy is required to successfully complete a repayment plan over a three- to five-year period before the court discharges any remaining eligible debts.

The bankruptcy trustee should recognize that you need a car and that you need a loan to finance the car purchase. Incurring debt with permission is possible in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. You will need to find a willing lender and get the trustee’s approval of the purchase and loan.

I hesitate to recommend a particular lender to anyone in bankruptcy. You want to buy new? That’s both good and bad. It’s good in that you’re unlikely to face extensive maintenance expenses that you can’t afford. The bad involves the instant depreciation or reduction in value of the car when you drive it off the lot. Even so, a lender is likely to be more comfortable with a new car loan than a used car loan.

Avoid so-called “buy here, pay here” places. If you are eligible to be a member of a credit union, look into whether one will provide you with a car loan. Another possibility: See if you can take a loan against your 401(k) plan at work.

One thing that caused a problem here could have been avoided. You went car shopping first and got frustrated when you couldn’t get a loan. I’d always suggest that a consumer get the loan first. Call the new car dealerships in your area and ask if their finance department works with subprime credit. Explain your situation.

Focus any loan applications within a short period of time so that your credit score doesn’t take multiple hits. When it’s clear that you’re comparison shopping, typically over a period of a week or two, multiple credit inquiries only count as one on your credit score.


SBI cuts home loan rates 5-15 bps, offers uniform rate


State Bank of India (SBI), the country’s largest lender, on Tuesday cut its home loan rates by 5-15 basis points to a uniform rate of 10.15%, making its loans the cheapest in the market for all new home loan customers.Irrespective of the quantum, women customers will get home loans at 10.10%. General customers can avail loans at 10.15% irrespective of the loan amount.Existing customers of the bank can avail of the rates after paying a nominal switch fee.One basis point is equivalent to one-hundredth of a percentage.Earlier, male customers could borrow up to Rs 75 lakh at 10.30% and women customers at 10.25%.A senior SBI official said, “We have lifted the slabs and made the rates uniform irrespective of the quantum of the loan. We will charge a nominal fee for existing customers who want to switch to the new schemes.”Experts said with corporate loan demand not reviving, banks are sitting on huge pile of cash which is forcing them cut rates on retail loans. SBI itself has excess cash of Rs 84,000 crore.With the Reserve Bank of India reducing the amount of money that banks are mandated to hold in government bonds in its monetary policy announced on August 5 and hopes corporate recovery dimming with the latest Supreme Court ruling cancelling the coal block allocation, retail loans will continue to be the focus of most banks, experts said.HDFC and ICICI Bank, the two other big players in the home loan market, recently cut rates to attract retail customers. HDFC, the second-largest mortgage lender, cut home loan rates to 10.15-10.65% for new salaried and self-employed professionals for loans up to Rs 75 lakh. The special rates are applicable for loans applied before August 31, and the first disbursement availed on or before September 30. For self-employed non-professional, HDFC charges higher rate of 10.25-10.75% for loans up to Rs 75 lakh.Earlier this month, ICICI Bank announced a single rate of 10.15% for all floating rate home loans up to Rs 5 crore for salaried individuals. For self-employed individuals, floating rate interest 10.15% for loans up to Rs 75 lakh and 10.35% for loans from Rs 75 lakh to Rs 3 crore. Women customers can get 10.10% for loans up to Rs 25 lakh.The new rate of interest is effective from August 14 for loans sanctioned up to August 31. The bank has also launched a 10-year fixed rate home loan product at 10.25%. […]

New Case Holding High-Cost Loans Unconscionable and a Payday …

posted by Nathalie Martin

A little bit of payday loan news for our readers. First, the New Mexico Supreme Court has held that 1100% high cost installment loans (the payday loan substitute in states where payday loans are illegal) are unconscionable.

Also, did you see John Oliver’s bit on payday loans this weekend? Take a look. It even features Sarah Silversman. Warning: There is some bad language in the video.


Pawn shop victim a flood hero


Friends and family pay respects at crime scene and in court as accused has name suppression extended.

Flooded farm land in the far north after a storm battered the top of the North Island. Photo / Dean Purcell

One of the men killed in a pawn shop in south Auckland on Saturday had recently returned from helping flood victims in Northland, a witness says.

A number of people laid flowers outside the Ezy Cash loan store on Great South Rd in Takanini yesterday, where police were still examining the scene.

Watch: Two killed in pawn shop attack


Nichola Popata laid a flower made from flax at a makeshift tribute site to the two men, who she described as “beautiful” and very friendly.

“I just wanted to come and pay my respects to Paul Matthews and Paul Fanning, to just share the love with their whanau and let them know we’re thinking about them at this time,” she said.

She had been “shattered” to hear of their deaths, she said, particularly as she had been in the store on Friday, the day before the deaths.

“I was just here on Friday doing some paperwork with them, they were comfortable, easy to talk to,” she said. “We just shared stories.”

Mr Matthews told her how he had recently returned from a 13-hour round trip to Northland, where he was helping his family who had been trapped by last week’s flooding. He had used his four-wheel drive to create a clearing, and “everybody else was able to follow him in a convoy coming out the back of Dargaville roads,” she said.

Ms Popata said she would remember Mr Fanning as a happy man.

“[He] always stands there and laughs and giggles and says, ‘Oh that’s not my job, go see Paul’.”

She was “quite sad to hear what had happened”.

Both men were “big, stocky guys”, and she had been surprised to hear they had been killed in the store.

Other store workers in the area, who did not want to be named, described the men as “fantastic” and “great guys”, who were well liked in the community.

Many were still in shock after the incident, questioning why it had happened.

Two forensic tents were erected yesterday outside the shop, which was cordoned off.

The 25-year-old man accused of murdering the men has had his name suppression extended.

He appeared in Papakura District Court yesterday charged with the murder of the store’s owner Mr Fanning, 69, and his employee Mr Matthews, 47.

The accused was arrested in Huntly on Saturday night. A woman, who was seen leaving the premises with him, was being treated as a witness, police said at the weekend.

The accused stood in the dock yesterday, dressed in a dark T-shirt with a white logo and dark trousers, and was supported in court by his partner, parents and extended family members.

The public gallery of the court was packed to capacity with family members of both the accused and the victims.

Many were upset, and wiped tears from their eyes. Others stood hugging each other in support.

During the sitting one woman shouted at the double-murder accused, calling him “scum”.

Duty lawyer Kersie Khambatta argued that the accused should be granted name suppression to protect his young family.

He has two young children – a 5-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter – with his partner.

Mr Khambatta said the children, and the accused’s younger sister who was still at school, would be subject to “jeers” and harassment from their classmates if his name was published.

There was also a fear that other family members would be identified by association and would be put “at risk”.

“They say that people out there are very angry and non-suppression of details mean that they would be in danger,” Mr Khambatta said.

The accused was granted interim name suppression by Justice of the Peace Tony Charman until 4pm yesterday. However, the accused appealed the interim decision and took it to the High Court.

Justice John Faire extended name suppression until the man’s next court appearance in August. He was remanded in custody.
Go to for the latest updates on this case.



AG: Thousands of borrowers could see refunds



Attorney General Gary King says “thousands” of borrowers are in line for refunds of exorbitant interest charges by two signature-loan companies on the heels of a state Supreme Court opinion this week that called their interest rates exceeding 1,000 percent “unconscionable.”

The controversial signature loans were issued by high-interest lenders Cash Loans Now and American Cash Loans since 2006. The Illinois-based companies had retail storefronts in Albuquerque, Farmington and Hobbs.

The companies lent borrowers between $50 and $300 with nothing but a signature, but charged interest rates between 1,147 percent and 1,500 percent.

KING: AG’s lawsuit was initially filed in 2009 (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

The loans called for 26 biweekly payments of about $40 for every $100 borrowed paid over a year.

A borrower given a $100 signature loan at the lowest available interest rate was on the hook to pay an additional $999.71 in interest over the year of repayment, according to the court. That amounts to a total obligation of $1,099.71.

King on Friday said loans continued to be issued by the companies through Thursday, when the court opinion was published ordering a halt to the practice and a partial refund to customers.

“In just this case, there are probably several thousand borrowers,” King said at a news conference Friday. “I’m going to say there are thousands of New Mexicans that might be impacted by this decision.”

The lawsuit was initially filed by the Attorney General’s Office in 2009.

The New Mexico Supreme Court on Thursday held that the company’s signature loans violated the state’s Unfair Practices Act and “took advantage of borrowers to a grossly unfair degree.”

The attorney representing the loan companies, Alex Walker, was out of the office Friday. He did not respond to an email request for comment.

The high court opinion ordered all the company’s signature loan contracts changed to replace all the “unconscionable” interest rates with a 15 percent interest rate, the rate state law sets as the “default” in lending contracts that don’t specify a different rate.

The court said Cash Loans Now and American Cash Loans will be required to return any money they were paid by borrowers in excess of the loan principal plus 15 percent interest.

That means a $100 borrower could be charged no more than $115 for the loan.

If that borrower paid the full $1,099.71 to the companies charged on a $100 loan, the borrower would be entitled to receive a $984.71 refund under the Supreme Court ruling. The court also ordered any late fees charged by the companies to be returned.

The Supreme Court sent the case back to a state District Court to determine how the refunds would be issued and who would receive them.

“We can’t say today exactly whose entitled to restitution, other than we know that the companies through the course of this litigation continued to offer these loan products, and so we’re going to want to see information on everybody who got these loan products,” King said Friday.

Cash Loans Now and American Cash Loans defended the practice, saying the New Mexico Legislature intended to have unrestricted interest rates for lenders after voting in 1981 to delete the cap on loans. The court rejected that claim, highlighting several other state laws that regulate other small installment loans with caps.

King said the court ruling puts other predatory lenders on notice that exorbitant interest rates for short-term loans will be challenged.

“There are a number of companies in New Mexico that are making similar loans, and for years those companies have claimed that those loans are legal,” King said. “… This case makes it very clear that that is not true.”

King said his office will “look at other cases” of predatory lenders after the ruling against Cash Loans Now and American Cash Loans.