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Firm had ‘disregard’ for loan customers

The FSA has fined mortgage lender Bridging Loans £42,000 and its director Joseph Cummings £70,000 for serious failures relating to lending practices and for failing to treat customers in arrears fairly.

It has banned Joseph Cummings and taken action to prevent three other directors, Miriam Cummings, Laura Cummings and Susan Cummings, from being able to operate in senior positions within the financial services industry.

While in charge of Bridging Loans, Joseph Cummings assessed customers’ complaints based on his perception of their character, without properly reviewing their circumstances, branding some customers “evil”.

As an approved person, Cummings failed to act appropriately when dealing with customers entering mortgage contracts or when handling complaints and subsequently in his treatment of customers in arrears.

He failed to ensure charges and interest were attributed accurately and fairly to accounts, with some charges inconsistent and excessive.

The FSA says Cummings tried to deter customers from complaining or seeking redress by threatening to charge a customer for time spent dealing with their account when they complained to the ombudsman or refusing to deal with a customer unless they withdrew their complaint to the ombudsman.

Miriam Cummings has been banned from performing any controlled function at a firm, while Laura Cummings and Susan Cummings have been banned from undertaking any significant influence function at a financial services firm in the future.

Bridging Loans has agreed not to conduct new FSA regulated mortgage business and the FSA has taken action to ensure it cannot repossess or sell the homes of any of its FSA-regulated mortgage customers.

Director of enforcement and financial crime Margaret Cole says: “Joseph Cummings showed total disregard for the interests of customers.”

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