Scottish Government u-turn on tackling payday lenders, betting shops sparks …

Alex Neil, the Social Justice Secretary who dropped the move, said the consultation raised practical difficulties and insisted the government would seek new powers to regulate payday lenders and betting shops, as recommended by the Smith Commission on further devolution.

However he was accused of failing to use Holyroods existing powers to protect the public.

Scottish Labour deputy leader Kezia Dugdale, who has campaigned against payday loan sharks accused him of showing a complete lack of political leadership.

Concern has been growing over high cost, short term lending and, in betting shops, the growth of fixed odds gambling terminals.

In Glasgow alone it is estimated 100,000 people regularly take payday loans in a market with pound;57million per year. Punters in the city spend pound;200m on fixed odds betting machines, which have been described as the crack cocaine of gambling.

Ministers pledged last August to tighten planning laws to prevent the clustering of payday lenders and bookmakers, which have been increasing their presence on the high street, particularly in deprived areas.

It followed a payday lending summit which was convened in response to a campaign known as Debtbusters demanding action to protect people from lenders charging sky-high interest.

In a new report, officials said there was a clear view that changing planning laws did not represent an effective and proportionate approach to limiting the number of pay day loan shops because of difficulties distinguishing companies from other financial service providers, though it was seen as the most suitable way to restrict betting shops.

Industry representatives argued that extending planning controls would prevent new companies entering the market and reduce competition.

Ms Dugdale, who played a leading role in the Debtbusters campaign, said: This is a real disappointment and shows a complete lack of political leadership from the SNP Government.

Pay day loan companies are legal loan sharks preying on folk struggling to make ends meet.

The SNP had a chance to do something about that and have clearly failed. All weve got is warm words and no action.

Glasgow City Council treasurer, Councillor Paul Rooney said planning changes would not have eliminated the problem but added: Ministers had to be dragged kicking and screaming to the table to talk about payday lending and problem gambling, by local government, by charities and voluntary groups and by the health services.

Now, they have abandoned the only meaningful proposal they were ever prepared to take on board.

Mr Neil said: Since we consulted, the Smith Commission recommended that the Scottish Parliament have powers to prevent the proliferation of payday lending and fixed odds betting terminals and we are pursuing those aims.

In light of these views and developments, the Scottish Government does not intend to make any changes to planning legislation in respect of betting offices and pay day lending at this time.

Debt Affecting Retirement For Many Arkansans

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — New statistics show Americans are deeper in debt now than any time in the last ten years and the Employee Benefit Research Institute reports 55 to 64 year olds heading into retirement are facing more debt than any other age group.

Maybe they have retired but theyre struggling and realize that they just cant make it work right now and so, they have to come back into the workforce, said Mark Foster, education director for Credit Counseling of Arkansas.

Credit Counseling of Arkansas says credit card debt and mortgage payments can start to pile up. But a Bankrate.com study shows medical bills are be the leading cause of debt in retirement.

I was speaking with people just yesterday and they were talking about how medical debt just crippled them financially and how hard of an obstacle that was to overcome, Foster said.

Foster says being prepared for the worst is the best financial move you can make.

The question isnt are you gonna have an emergency but rather when and it will happen so its important to be prepared for unexpected things that pop up because they can and will pop up, Foster said.

When it comes to eliminating debt, CCOA believes a little financial discipline can go a long way.

Stop charging things, stop getting more debt and take a look at your spending. Track your expenses, see where your moneys actually going, Foster said.

(KNWA, Fayetteville)

John Archibald

| 2012-01-19 — John Archibald thinks Shelby County residents share the blame for a long-time teacher whos admitted molesting young girls and why Birmingham is the kick-off of a federal campaign against pay day loan operations.

Dungannon mother to pay restitution for pay-day loan scam

A woman who was convicted of taking money from a payday loan account belonging to another man has received a conditional discharge.

The court heard how a man gave his girlfriend’s sister permission to take out a payday loan on wonga.com using his name and account on March 26, 2013.

This woman went to the home of Sheena Campbell, 27, at Cloneen Avenue in Dungannon, to use her computer and seek her assistance.

Nedbank Corporate Property Finance partners with developers to alleviate …

In addition, much of the available on-campus accommodation is dilapidated, unhygienic and unsafe. Ken Reynolds, Regional Executive of Nedbank Corporate Property Finance in Gauteng says that according to the Department of Higher Education in 2009, it was confirmed that the shortage is extreme and that the lack of supply of student housing is one of the primary causes for poor performance and the high dropout rates at some universities.

According to statistics from the Department, out of a student population of 530 000, there is currently only enough student accommodation for 100 000 students – this barely meets 18 percent of the demand. As the demand for student accommodation far outweighs supply, there are excellent investment opportunities available in this market.

As a result, we may see the establishment of a new REIT dedicated to providing student accommodation in the future. And, although the buy-to-let market is currently depressed, student accommodation is one section of this market that is proving to be an excellent buy-to-let option for private investors, usually for a relatively small capital outlay.

Nedbank Corporate Property Finance has partnered with a number of developers that are focusing specifically on addressing this critical student accommodation shortage. It announced in June last year that it provided finance to CampusKey to provide close to 500 additional beds at the University of the Free State and the University of Pretoria.

Also financed by Nedbank were 1 590 additional beds for the University of Johannesburg and University of Pretoria which were constructed by Respublica in time for occupation by students at the start of this academic year.

Now Nedbank Corporate Property Finance is providing PCI Rentals (Pty) Ltd through its subsidiary , JJP Varsity Lodges, with R221 million to provide 2574 additional beds to tertiary institutions around the country, with at least another 2000 to be developed in the near future. Accommodation provided by this funding includes:

  • Meadowlands in Newcastle, offering 289 two bedroom units that are across the street from the newly developed Curro (Meridian) School and in close proximity to Majuba College.
  • 1115 beds in Riviera and Phillip Nel Park in Pretoria, which provide much needed accommodation to University of Pretoria, Tshwane Institute of Technology and SANDF students.
  • 530 beds in Brixton and Hursthill in Johannesburg that cater for University of Johannesburg and Helen Joseph Academic Hospital students. 270 of these are already occupied while the balance is currently under construction for completion by February 2015.
  • 450 beds in Midrand which provide accommodation to the students of the Midrand Graduate Institute (MGI).
  • 190 Beds in Potchefstroom for students of The North West University and MGI.

PCI Properties, the holding company of PCI Rentals, was founded in 2007 and is a private property investment company that focuses on niche areas of the rental market including student accommodation. PCI Rentals is co-owned by Inshare (Pty) Ltd, through its subsidiary Insure Group Managers Ltd, a public company specialising in insurance premium collections and business solutions for brokers.

PCI Rentals student accommodation business is managed by JJP Varsity Lodges. Hansie Prinsloo, co-owner and managing director of JJP Varsity Lodges, is a seasoned specialist in residential developments and student accommodation with over 25 years experience, Currently JJP Varsity Lodges manages in excess of 5000 student beds in South Africa.

Reynolds says that Nedbank is pleased to be in a position to partner with companies such as PCI Rentals to help alleviate the severe shortage of student accommodation in South Africa. PCI Rentals, through its subsidiary JJP Varsity Lodges, has many years experience and is one of the market leaders in student accommodation. We are proud to have provided agile solutions for the company that makes available better infrastructure at some of the countrys leading tertiary institutions.

Friar Street shops plan: give and take on take-aways

Applicants have taken away a proposal which could have seen two Friar Street shops turned into take-aways.

Planners will look again at an application from Aviva for a change of use for numbers 60 and 62 at the end of Friar Street to a range of uses which could have included shops, financial services, restaurants, cafÃs and takeaways.

At the last meeting Councillor Tony Page wanted the takeaway use removed after consultation with applicant along with the betting and pay-day loan shop uses.

He said at the time: Im sure there is not colleague in this room who would argue that we would need any more take-aways in the town centre.

The application will be looked at again on Wednesday, February 11, by the planning applications committee, but this time Aviva has removed the A5 use which would mean it could become a take-away.

The planning officers are recommending the change to flexible use is approved with conditions.

One condition would be that pay-day loans and betting shops should be excluded from the potential uses.

Another condition proposed would be that odour abatement techniques must be submitted to the environmental protection team at the council before any work begins.

Similarly noise levels from the any commercial kitchens in the development should not cause an increase over existing background noise levels.

The applicants should also detail storage and waste collection methods and the hours of use of the ground floor buildings should be restricted to 8am to 11pm Sunday to Thursday and 8am to midnight at weekends.

Virginia: About 1 in 5 state lawmakers have more than $50000 in debt

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – About one in five Virginia legislators list having at least $50,000 in personal debt besides a mortgage, an analysis of financial disclosure forms by The Associated Press has found.

But states ethics laws dont currently require lawmakers to offer much detail about the debts. That means the public wouldnt be able to tell if an elected official has a mountain of credit card bills similar to what prosecutors suggested helped drive former Gov. Bob McDonnell into taking bribes from a smooth-talking vitamin salesman.

McDonnell entered office in 2010 with $75,000 in credit card debt, information that only became public last year during his corruption trial. On the personal financial form McDonnell signed right before taking office, he was only required to list that he owed more than $50,000 to Banks.

Thats the same standard lawmakers had to use on their most recent financial disclosures filed in December.

But more transparency may be coming. Leaders in both the House and the Senate, who are currently working on a final ethics reform package to be approved before the end of the 2015 legislative session, have said they want a new ethics advisory council to come up with new forms that are more transparent about a lawmakers personal finances.

There is a lack of specificity in the forms that I would like to see improved, said Del. Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah County.

Gilbert noted that lawmakers tightened up some disclosure requirements related to personal debts last year – lawmakers now how to give the names of any individuals they owe money to. But Gilbert said the disclosure forms remain a work in progress.

Whether state lawmakers will ultimately accept having to disclose more information about their personal financial situation is unclear.

Several senators have complained bitterly this session about having to pass what they said is unnecessary ethics legislation in order to avoid being mistreated by the media. And most lawmakers with debts over $50,000 did not respond to requests from the AP for more detail about those debts.

Give me yours and Ill give you mine, Del. Lionell Spruill Sr., D-Chesapeake, said to a reporter in response to a question about the more than $50,000 Spruill listed owing to Banks.

Others were happy to provide more detail. Hopewell Republican Del. Riley Ingram said his debt – also listed as more than $50,000 to Banks on his most recent disclosure form – is a $450,000 unsecured line of credit he uses for real estate investments.

Some lawmakers who have debt also list having a vast portfolio of stocks and real estate investments; others list having few assets.

Political corruption cases often involve politicians with serious personal financial problems, and prosecutors focused on the McDonnells finance woes at trial last year. McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, were convicted in September of accepting more than $165,000 in gifts and loans from vitamin salesman Jonnie Williams. Both McDonnells are appealing their convictions.

Disclosure has long been the guiding ethos of Virginias ethics rules. Lawmakers can take in unlimited campaign contributions, and, until last year, unlimited gifts as long as they are disclosed.

But the forms lawmakers have to fill out in Virginia are short on details compared to what federal lawmakers have to make public.

Consider the disclosures of US House Rep. Barbara Comstock, who was a state delegate from Northern Virginia before winning election to Congress last year.

On a federal financial disclosure form filed in early 2014, Comstock disclosed debts of between $120,000 and $315,000. The forms required her to list the name of each creditor, the type of debt, a date of when each debt occurred and a range of how much each debt was. Comstock listed multiple credit card debts, student loans and a loan against a retirement account.

But in a state disclosure form filed around the same time, Comstocks form shows only that she had more than $50,000 in student loan debt and between $10,000 and $50,000 in debt to insurance companies.

Theres no indication on Comstocks state form of any credit card debt. Jeff Marschner, a spokesman for Comstock, said the box was checked wrong, and that Comstock will file an amended report.

The APs analysis of state lawmakers forms also found that nearly half of all legislators or their immediate family members in both chambers carry at least $5,000 in personal debt besides mortgages, the vast majority of which is to unnamed institutional creditors.

A small number of lawmakers voluntarily disclosed more information about their debts than is required.

Loudon County Republican Del. Tag Greason, for instance, details on his disclosure form that he has a car loan worth between $5,000 and $50,000. He said he wanted his constituents to know he didnt owe money on something like a high-interest pay day loan.

I thought it was important to make that distinction, Greason said.

(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Judge Affirms $3.2M Verdict for Gill Trustee

COLUMBUS, Ga. (CN) – The custodian of a trust established by fugitive real estate mogul John Gill is entitled to a $3.2 million jury award for damages stemming from the conversion of the trusts funds, a federal judge ruled.
U.S, District Judge Clay Land confirmed the award in a case that pitted Daniel Van Gasken, trustee of the Gill Family Cornerstone Trust, against Gills brother, Loren Gill and Elm Leasing LLC, an entity that he controls.
John Gill made his initial fortune as a pioneer in the pay day loan industry, and like many an entrepreneur, he began to look for ways to invest his profits and minimize his taxes.
However, according to the Judge Lands opinion, Gill chose a more imaginative strategy than most.
He set up an elaborate scheme in which he took a purported vow of poverty and became a minister of the Order of the International Academy of Lymphology, Land explained. He set up the Gill Family Cornerstone Trust in 1999 with his daughters, Kaitlyn and Lauren Gill, included as beneficiaries.
Van Gasken was named trustee, and Cornerstone was set up to be the beneficiary of 250 real estate holding trusts.
Ten years later, John Gill was convicted in Florida on criminal charges related to his payday loan business. Instead of reporting to prison, Gill fled the country and forfeited control over his real estate empire, Land wrote.
After hostility developed between Loren Gill and Van Gasken regarding control of the trusts, the daughters filed suit accusing the men of draining the Cornerstone Trusts assets.
On April 14, 2014, the daughters settled for 40 percent of the properties held in the trusts and 40 percent of any assets recovered from their uncle, Loren Gill.
Trustee Van Gasken claimed that John and Loren Gill converted money from the real estate holding trusts to purchase eight properties titled in the name of Elm Leasing.
The ruling explains that Van Gasken was duped into believing Elm Leasing belonged to a trust benefiting the Cornerstone Trust, when in fact, Loren Gill is the sole owner.
Van Gasken also introduced evidence that Loren Gill accepted almost $235,000 from the new management companies that mistakenly believed he was entitled to the funds.
After four days of trial and an examination of financial records by expert witness accountant, the jury determined that Gill used roughly $2.8 million in trust funds to pay for the Elm Leasing properties.
Dissatisfied with the jury verdict, the defendants filed motions for judgment as a matter of law or, in the alternative, for a new trial.
Judge Land rejected both.
According to the 15-page ruling, The jury found that Loren Gill and Elm Leasing converted property belonging to Van Gasken in his capacity as trustee of the real estate holding trusts and awarded damages.
The Court finds that there was sufficient evidence for a reasonable juror to conclude that Van Gasken did not authorize the transactions, Land wrote as he tossed the defendants request for judgment.
As for the motion for a new trial, Land said the request was based on the same arguments Defendants relied on in support of their motions for judgment as a matter of law
As discussed above, the evidence viewed in the light most favorable to Van Gasken supports the jurys verdict, and the Court may not substitute its judgment for that of the jury unless the verdict is against the great, not merely the greater weight of the evidence.