Body Shop owners sell to U.K. parent

The once high-flying public company, founded by Anita Roddick, who pioneered the notion of mixing skin-care products with social responsibility, has been struggling in recent years.

The Toronto Star
June 25, 2004

Body Shop owners sell to U.K. parent
Dana Flavelle

Attorney-General Michael Bryant has vowed to investigate the high-cost payday lending industry following opposition calls for government action on what one critic described as "nothing more than loansharking with a quasi-legal face."

"We have to do everything we can to protect consumers in these circumstances…. We have to make sure that those who are taking advantage of our laws are held to account," Bryant told the Star.

"And as our government moves forward with consumer protection initiatives, these companies should be on notice that our justice system is keeping a close eye on them and we will invesigate and where appropriate prosecute to the fullest extent of the law."

In "Matter of Interest," a Star investigation examining the unregulated payday loan industry, the paper found that lenders target poorer areas, charge a confusing hodgepodge of interest and fees, and allow back-to-back loans, which in short order can balloon into huge costs.

It's a criminal offence in Canada to charge in excess of 60 per cent interest per year, but the law, experts say, is flawed and was never intended to apply to commercial loans.

"It can be argued that payday loans involving exorbitant interest rates, high fees and punishing penalties for people who cannot pay are nothing more than loansharking with a quasi-legal face," Tory MPP Bob Runciman told the Legislature, calling on the government to act.

Premier Dalton McGuinty told the Star he was mindful of the situation and "we are going to take a look at" the industry. He further promised to talk to the chartered banks to see what can be done to get loans at reasonable rates for the poor.

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