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Wednesday 28 June 2017

Director of debt firm lost licence in UK over convictions

Aideen Sheehan Consumer Correspondent

THE director of a debt management company investigated by the Central Bank previously had his credit licence revoked in the UK because he had undisclosed convictions, the Irish Independent has learnt.

Adam Deering (30) is the director and secretary of Dunne & Maxwell, a debt management firm. The Central Bank this week warned people not to use the company because of concerns it might not pass their money on to lenders.

It has now emerged the UK's Office of Fair Trading (OFT) revoked the credit licence of a similar debt management company, Maxwell Jacobs Ltd, in the UK in 2005.

This was because its director, Adam Deering "had committed offences involving violence and had a number of driving offences", the OFT said in a statement at the time.

It found he did not declare these convictions to the OFT. Mr Deering, of Bowdon in Cheshire, resigned from the company when it was applying for a UK licence, only to be later reappointed.

The OFT described these actions as "a deliberate attempt to conceal his role in the business and his convictions".

The Central Bank in Ireland issued a statement to outline its concerns about Dunne & Maxwell following an inspection of the business based in Dublin's Clarendon Street.

It is understood the Central Bank has also referred the case to gardai.

Problems came to light during a probe into the debt management and bill payment industry triggered by the collapse of another company, Home Payments Ltd, last year.

The collapse left 2,300 customers owed over €6m.

The Central Bank said it was concerned about Dunne & Maxwell's operations and handling of consumers' money, and that it "may not be able to pay any bills on their behalf to lenders or other creditors".

"The Central Bank has communicated directly with the clients of Dunne and Maxwell Ltd to advise them to cease all payments with immediate effect," it said.

Dunne & Maxwell had no licence to operate, meaning its directors had not submitted the financial probity questionnaire required of regulated financial companies -- which could have uncovered Mr Deering's previous record.

The Central Bank found a number of companies handling money on behalf of consumers should be regulated under existing payment services laws.

It is also calling for further legislation to bring the entire sector under its jurisdiction.

However, it refused to comment further on whether there would be any proceedings taken as a result of what it had uncovered in its trawl.

One unhappy customer of Dunne & Maxwell told the Irish Independent she had paid over €1,000 to it a few years ago to pay a loan on her behalf.

But she was contacted four months later by debt collectors for the lender to say no money had been received, meaning she was even deeper in arrears.

She had been repeatedly fobbed off when she complained to the company and told her payments were set-up costs.

The Office of Fair Trading said it could not say if Mr Deering would be able to get a credit licence now as it would depend on the adverse information at hand at that time.

"However, we could not contend the same reasons were we to have doubts as to his fitness because those convictions are now spent," a spokesman said.

In the UK, certain convictions are deemed to be wiped from a person's record after five years.

Neither Mr Deering nor Dunne and Maxwell responded to requests for a comment.

The company's website has been taken down and its phone line is not operating.

Irish Independent

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