The Consumer Ombudsman is requesting the Market Court to prohibit Suomen Rahoitusyhtiö Oy from offering payday loans on terms in violation of the Consumer Protection Act. Furthermore, the Consumer Ombudsman requests that the Market Court prohibit the collection agency Requisita Oy and the law firm Hasa Bros. Oy from collecting receivables based on consumer credit agreements insofar as the payments collected from debtors include interest in excess of the interest rate cap provision in the Consumer Protection Act, charges for a messaging service subject to a fee, due date postponement charges in excess of the Interest Act, and contractual penalties in excess of the statutory consequences of default.
Suomen Rahoitusyhtiö Oy offers credit to private individuals on its webpages glee.fi, orkia.fi, siljalaina.fi, ottoraha.fi and finnlaina.fi. According to its own terms and conditions, the company does not grant or broker consumer credit, but acts as an online portal for credit granted between private individuals. The company itself states that it is engaged in a so-called peer-to-peer loan operation.
Terms and conditions in violation of the Consumer Protection Act
The credit granting operations and collection of receivables through Suomen Rahoitusyhtiö Oy’s websites are decentralised between several companies. Whereas some of the companies involved are Finnish, others are registered abroad, for instance in Panama, the Seychelles and the United Kingdom. The Consumer Ombudsman’s investigations have revealed that the companies in question are controlled by the same owner and interested parties.
According to the Consumer Ombudsman, the credit granting activity referred to in the contract terms of Suomen Rahoitusyhtiö Oy is an artificial arrangement, not a real one. The sole aim is to circumvent the regulations in Chapter 7 of the Consumer Protection Act regarding consumer credits. The Consumer Ombudsman finds that the credit granting procedure executed through the company’s websites constitutes the actual credit relationship, which is between Suomen Rahoitusyhtiö Oy and the consumer who applied for the payday loan.
Moreover, the Consumer Ombudsman is demanding a personal injunction on four persons operating within Suomen Rahoitusyhtiö Oy, Requisita Oy and Hasa Bros. Oy.
The Consumer Ombudsman submitted the application to the Market Court on 7 January 2016.