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Tribunal pulls Onedebt MD’s debt counselling registration, issues R500k fine

National Consumer Tribunal pulls Onedebt MD’s debt counselling registration, issues R500k fine

The National Consumer Tribunal (NCT) has cancelled the debt counselling registration of the managing director of Cape Town-based Onedebt and fined him R500 000.

The NCT found Johan Fourie guilty of numerous transgressions of the National Credit Act, its regulations, and his conditions of registration as a debt counsellor.

The hearing before the tribunal followed an investigation by the National Credit Regulator (NCR) after the NCR received complaints from consumers in 2018 and 2019.

According to the tribunal’s judgment, Fourie’s transgressions included:

  • Placing consumers under debt review without:
    • Informing them of the consequences of debt review;
    • Having received a completed and signed Form 16;
    • The consumers having applied for debt review in terms of the Act; and/or
    • The consumers expressing an intention to apply for debt review.
  • Charging consumers legal fees upfront.
  • Failing to inform credit providers and credit bureaus within the prescribed period that consumers had applied for debt counselling.
  • Failing to update consumers’ status on the Debt Help System database as they moved through the debt review process.
  • Failing to keep full and proper records of his debt counselling activities.

In addition to cancelling his registration and imposing the R500 000 fine, the tribunal ordered Fourie to:

  • Assist the NCR to allocate his clients to another registered debt counsellor.
  • Appoint an auditor, at his own cost and within 30 business days from date of the tribunal’s order, to identify all consumers who were charged fees unlawfully.
  • Following the audit, refund all past and present consumers any amounts that did not accord with the fee guidelines and/or that he was not entitled to receive.

If there was no proof of debt restructuring orders, refund all the fees (excluding the application fee).

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