A LOAN SHARK couple who ran an illegal £400,000 money lending business have had their crimes exposed.

The husband and wife team, Jesus Gutierrez, 57 and Maria Gutierrez, 55, both of Borderside, Slough, were both sentenced on Friday for running the three-year-long illegal money lending scheme, in which they charged customers 50 per cent interest on their loans.

Prosecuting, Simon Mortimer told the court that the couple had been running the scheme since February 2013. Over the next three years, they would issue loans amounting to £410,623, to which they applied interest payments totalling £219,510.

The prosecution went on to demonstrate that the Gutierrez couple issued over 150 loans ranging from £500 to £20,000. The typical loan was for a period of ten months, and a flat rate of 50 per cent interest was charged. The couple leant money to around 50 people, targeting the Filipino community in particular.

One victim borrowed £2,000 from the couple to pay for his mother's funeral costs, and was then forced to repay £3,000 to them over the next ten months.

The couple's home was raided in November 2016, and documents containing evidence of their crimes were seized by police.

The case was prosecuted by the Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT), in partnership with Slough Borough Council and Thames Valley Police.

Mr Guiterrez was sentenced to eight months in prison, suspended for 18 months, and was ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work. Mrs Guiterrez was sentenced to six months, suspended for 18 months, and made to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work.

Tony Quigley, Head of the Illegal Money Lending Team, said: "This result sends a clear message that loan sharks, who are caught flouting the law by conducting consumer credit activities without permission, will be pursued and prosecuted by the IMLT.

"Loan sharking will not be tolerated in Berkshire and we will continue to work with council and police partners to combat this crime."

If you have concerns about loan sharking, you can find help and guidance at www.stoploansharks.co.uk