Lender accused of cartel conduct
High-cost lender Moola is facing court action from the Commerce Commission over claims it engaged in cartel conduct in relation to online advertising on Google Ads.
The commission alleges Moola reached agreements with other consumer loan providers that they would not bid on each other’s brand names on Google Ads.
It also claims the financiers agreed to negatively match certain keywords, which means people searching for a consumer loan provider on Google may not see adverts for other loan providers.
These agreements fixed, controlled or maintained the price paid by Moola for its online advertising on Google Ads, according to the competition watchdog.
In turn this prevented or restricted the purchase of advertising on the platform, which the commission says breaches the Commerce Act.
The commission has filed proceedings at the High Court in Christchurch seeking declarations that Moola engaged in cartel conduct and is not seeking a financial penalty.
Moola offers loans to borrowers via its website and includes vehicle finance among its products.
It has previously fallen foul of the commission for charging unreasonable credit and default fees. It reached a settlement with the agency in March 2021 to credit or refund $2.8 million to borrowers.