THE owner of a Wigan betting giant is at the centre of a furore over staff loans.
Billionaire BetFred boss Fred Done, who now owns the Tote, has been accused of attempting to profit from his staff, many of who are on minimum wage.
He is said, in a headline-grabbing report in a tabloid, to be majority shareholder in a firm offering betting shop workers “quick cash”...but at an eye-watering 39.9 per cent APR.
Larger-than-life Mancunian Done is accused of advertising the loans across his vast North West-based betting empire’s internal internet site used by gaming industry staff - but failing to reveal that it is actually he is behind the firm. They have now been axed from Facebook after what is described as an angry backlash from BetFred staff.
But the ads continue to remain on BetFred’s own staff website and on screens in BetFred betting shops across the borough.
Hard-pressed staff who borrow £1,000 over a year will end up paying more than £1,200.
High profile Manchester United fan Done, 71, helped to found the loan company Golden Tree six years ago and remains a director.
But in a statement today, BetFred, which is based in Warrington, said that the loans offered by Golden Tree were being offered to staff to prevent them paying higher rates of interest if they were to take a payday loan. More than 550 staff work at The Tote.
A BetFred spokesman said: “A number of products are advertised on the staff internet and the loan option is one of several facilities available to our staff.
“All loans are subject to strict credit checks and the ability to pay them back.
“A maximum of £1,000 can be borrowed in any one year and the APR is calculated on a reducing balance.
“So if a loan is taken out for the maximum amount of £1,000 over one year the amount they will pay back will be £1,227.80.”
Makerfield MP Yvonne Fovargue MP, who has successfully campaigned to legislate payday loan companies said that she wanted businesses to “do well and prosper”.
But a key part of that success was “rewarding staff and gaining respect as an employer by being open and transparent”.
She said: “Fred Done has failed on both counts by offering payday loan interest rates to staff on minimum wage and then hiding the fact that he is a majority shareholder in the company offering the loans.”