Judge approves $18.5 million settlement ending payday loan dispute

By Kelly Zegers (February 26, 2020, 6:09 PM EST) — A federal judge in Virginia on Tuesday ordered preliminary approval of an $18.5 million settlement of claims that the fintech company of a former Google executive and a tribal corporation have stuck consumers with payday loans bearing triple-digit interest rates.

Consumers in the proposed class action had accused former Google chief information officer Douglas Merrill and the company he founded, ZestFinance Inc., of hiding behind the sovereign immunity of a tribal corporation from the North Dakota while providing short-term loans with interest rates of up to 460%. .

Beyond the settlement payment, the agreement erases $170 million in unpaid consumer debt.

Some 366,000 individuals who have entered into loan agreements…

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