Assetz Capital has reportedly been found to have treated a customer unfairly by the Financial Ombudsman.
The case centres around the former peer-to-peer lending platform’s introduction of a temporary lender fee of 0.9 per cent per annum in May 2020, after experiencing a substantial drop in its income as a result of the pandemic.
According to The Mouse in the Court blog, Assetz told an investor on 31 March 2020 that it would be introducing the fee from 1 May that year. The investor requested to close his accounts immediately as he did not want to pay the fee.
Assetz refused to close his accounts, referring to its terms and conditions, so the investor referred his complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service for an independent review.
The investor reportedly was not able to exit for several months due to the queuing system introduced by Assetz and had to pay a loan servicing fee during that time.
Read more: Assetz chief expresses regret at retail exit
In a preliminary decision, the ombudsman Daniel Little noted Assetz’ obligation to treat its customers fairly and said he felt it would have been “fair and reasonable” for the platform to allow investors to leave if they did not want to pay the fee.
The ombudsman said he was not persuaded that the investor had been treated fairly, given that he had to pay a new fee during the duration of the sell-down, according to The Mouse in the Court.
After receiving additional comments and evidence from Assetz, Little said that had not found a reason to change the conclusion he reached in his provisional decision, and said that Assetz should refund the investor the fees he paid.
Assetz declined to comment on the case when contacted by Peer2Peer Finance News.