A businessman from Co Antrim has said a high-interest loans company left him feeling suicidal after selling him more than £20,000 of unaffordable loans while already £40,000 in debt.
John MacKenzie (49) from Ballymena first started borrowing from Amigo Loans in 2016, which snowballed to £24,000.
The company was permanently banned from lending in May 2022 by the Financial Conduct Authority and ordered to repay £112m of interest to customers who took on what was classed as unaffordable debt since 2005.
Amigo had set itself apart from high street lenders by offering loans to people with low credit scores providing they had a guarantor who could cover their repayments, but the business collapsed after tens of thousands complained.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, Mr MacKenzie said he had been fighting both Amigo and the Financial Conduct Authority for years over the affordability of his debts.
“All I want is my money back so I can settle my debts and sort out my life,” he said.
“If my claim had been dealt with at the time I first submitted it, my money would have been paid back with interest. Now Amigo is in administration, they’re sitting on that money and I can’t afford to live.”
With debts of £40,000 after his business struggled, he was granted four loans from Amigo after his sister-in-law had agreed to be his guarantor.
The company has since admitted all four of his loans were not affordable.
“They didn’t care what I earned. I was self-employed, they knew my debt, and they still made the decision to lend,” he said.
He described how money was simply “disappearing” out of his bank account seriously affected his mental and physical health.
“My health has deteriorated dramatically, even to this day when I get money in my bank I transfer it to my savings account because I am scared it will disappear,” he said.
“The word Amigo is a trigger for me, I go into a heightened state of fear.
“Amigo Loans ruined my life and that’s not being dramatic. I’ve experienced suicidal events. I was struggling. Why was this allowed to happen?
“I don’t trust anybody with money now, I don’t borrow anything anymore. I don’t trust authorities.
“I take full responsibility for anything I borrowed, but if things aren’t right there needs to be adaptations and changes.”
A spokesperson for Amigo told the Daily Mail that the company has so far issued over 173,000 decisions to customers with claims, representing around 82% of the total.
After missing the January deadline for settling all claims, the company said it was hopeful all responses could be issued by mid-March 2024 with “the maximum level of redress to eligible claimants”.