Shoprite Group had granted credit recklessly in 2013-2014 and has been ordered by the High Court to pay a R1m fine and to appoint a debt counsellor. Photo: African News Agency (ANA)
Shoprite Group had granted credit recklessly in 2013-2014 and has been ordered by the High Court to pay a R1m fine and to appoint a debt counsellor. Photo: African News Agency (ANA)

High Court confirms Shoprite fine of R1m for granting reckless credit

By Edward West Time of article published Jan 15, 2020

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CAPE TOWN – Shoprite Group had granted credit recklessly in 2013-2014 and has been ordered by the High Court to pay a R1 million fine and to appoint a debt counsellor.

This was after the court in December upheld a National Credit Tribunal (NCT) ruling that the supermarket chain had granted credit recklessly. The High Court in Pretoria had dismissed Shoprite’s appeal, with costs.

Shoprite yesterday confirmed it had accepted the judgment by the National Credit Regulator and had processed the payment of the fine imposed on one of its subsidiaries, Shoprite Investments Limited, for extending credit to some of its customers too easily.

“This matter relates to credit agreements concluded in June 2013 and June 2014 with nine consumers from among thousands. In all these cases the credit extended was settled in full by the customers concerned,” the group said.

The NCT said yesterday that Shoprite had, in these cases, disregarded consumers’ pre-existing credit payment obligations, contrary to the provisions of the National Credit Act.

Shoprite had “adjusted” credit bureau information, to enable credit to be granted where the information in the credit bureau report indicated that consumers could not afford the proposed new debt.

Shoprite also disregarded or adjusted consumers’ pre-existing and future financial commitments in order to create affordability for the proposed new debt.

In dismissing Shoprite’s appeal, the High Court noted that the “most astonishing” aspect of Shoprite’s approach to affordability assessments was the fact that many consumers “still had negative affordability figures”, even after Shoprite had carried out its “adjustments” to affordability calculations, yet Shoprite nevertheless proceeded to grant credit to these consumers.

The High Court also noted that the consumers effected by Shoprite’s conduct were mostly pensioners and individuals with low average income.

The National Credit Regulator (NCR) initially found that Shoprite was likely grading credit recklessly to some consumers during a research exercise in September 2014, said NCR chief executive Nomsa Motshegare.

The NCR then initiated an investigation into Shoprite’s affordability assessment and credit granting practices.

BUSINESS REPORT

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