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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

Virginia announces consent judgment against investment firm

State Issues State Attorney General Enforcement Usury Licensing Consumer Finance Interest Rate

State Issues

On August 24, the Virginia attorney general announced a consent judgment entered on August 16 against a Virginia-based investment company and its managing member (collectively, "defendants") to resolve allegations that they violated Virginia’s consumer finance statutes. The consent judgment settled a lawsuit in which the AG alleged that defendants “made loans to distressed homeowners and charged interest or other compensation greatly exceeding an effective annual interest rate of 12 percent, without being licensed as a consumer finance company or coming within another exemption to Virginia’s usury laws.” According to the AG, the complaint alleged that a representative of the defendant investment company approached a Virginia Beach homeowner facing foreclosure and presented her with an agreement in which the defendants would provide the amount needed to stop the foreclosure in exchange for permission to list and sell the homeowner’s separate Virginia Beach property at an above-market commission rate or, if the sale did not occur, to purchase that property at a significantly below market price. Under the terms of the consent judgment, the defendants, among other things are: (i) permanently enjoined from violating specific consumer finance statutes, including by “making any loan requiring a collateral sale and/or purchase to Virginia consumers”; (ii) required to pay $11,000 in attorneys’ fees and costs; and (iii) required to provide certain restitution and/or forbearance relief to consumers identified by the defendants pursuant to the consent judgment as well as “to any Virginia consumer who comes forward within two (2) years after entry of the Consent Judgment with evidence establishing that he or she received a loan requiring a collateral sale and/or purchase from [defendants]” during the period from January 1, 2018 to the present.

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