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The real rip-off culture? Part Three

In the final part of a three-part review (parts one and two) of money lending and the accusation made by Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, of a “rip-off culture” in parts of the financial system, I decided to pick on the story of Arran Coghlan.

Arran has recently been acquitted of assaulting two police officers.  He was accused in 2008 of breaking the nose of one officer and splitting the lip of another, but the case collapsed a week ago when the Crown Prosecution Service offered no evidence.

What’s this got to do with money-lending?

Well, that’s Arran’s main business and he’s very good at it.  He’s also very good at getting off the hook, having previously been charged and acquitted of three murders and a plot to flood Britain with cocaine.

His story is told in depth in a recent Daily Mail article, and there was one bit I found particularly interesting where, after being cleared of his first murder case, he says that: ‘people treated me with a little caution in case there was any truth in it. At first I was unhappy about it, but I realised as I got into money-lending business that the perception was not without its advantages in persuading people to pay on time.’

Very true.

I suspect that Mr. Coghlan is very successful at what he does – money-lending – but I also suspect that unlike Wonga, the payday firms and the banks, his interest rates are far less transparent and the repercussions for not paying on time are far more severe.

So, here’s a summary of his story taken from the Week.

Arran Coghlan doesn’t look like trouble, says Paul Braacchi in the Daily Mail.  Yet, in the past ten years, the lanky, polite 39-year old from Cheshire has been charged with murder three times.  Each time, he was acquitted.  Last month, he was cleared of a plot to flood Britain with cocaine; and last week he walked free after a case in which he was charged with assaulting two police officers collapsed.

The press, convinced there is no smoke without fire, has dubbed him Teflon Don.

“I detest that description because it suggests I have ‘got off’”, he says.  “I didn’t ‘get off’.  The police tried to stich me up.”

Five times?

“I can understand how  it might look”, he says.  “But do you honestly think the Old Bill would drop case after case against me unless they had to?”

That’s not to say he’s a paragon.

Raised by a single mother on a Stockport council estate, Coghlan admits he drifted into petty crime (he once serviced 18 months for car theft), before becoming a loan shark in his 20s.

It was around this time that he was charged with his first murder – the drive-by shooting of a local gangster.

Despite his acquittal, he says, the case lent him a certain cachet.

“I think people treated me with a little caution in case there was any truth in it. At first I was unhappy about it, but I realised as I got into money-lending business that the perception was not without its advantages in persuading people to pay on time.”

These days, he says, he runs  a respectable business consultancy.

“My business is totally legit”, he says. “I’m very proud that I’ve come from nothing and done rather well for myself.”

Yet he has spent nearly five years on remand for crimes he hasn’t been convicted of – and the police are still on his case.

His most recent murder trial was last year – when he was accused of shooting dead a local gangster who suddenly appeared in his house.  The jury believed his claim that the gun went off during a struggle – and only after the gagster had slashed Coghlan’s neck.

“The scar is on my jugular vein”, he says. “It was a good shot — but not good enough. I don’t do dying — that’s for others.”

Read the full interview with Arran at the Daily Mail.

About Chris M Skinner

Chris M Skinner
Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, the Finanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal’s Financial News. To learn more click here...

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