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Friday, May 24, 2024

Online money lenders sue web activists under the Online Safety Act

Image courtesy of Ada Derana.

Several online money lending companies have filed cases, under the Online Safety Act, before Attanagalla District Judge Kesara Samaradivakara, seeking compensation totalling Rs 4.25 billion from three individuals for allegedly defaming financial institutions through malicious and inaccurate statements on social media.

The complainant companies, affiliated to the Digital Alternative Lending Association (DALA), named the defendants as Agampodige Thivanka Chaturanga Lakshman residing in Veyangoda, Tharinda Bandara Thiskumara from Gampola and Nilantha Kumara from Maho.

 During the Court hearing yesterday (8), the judge issued a notice to the defendants to appear before the Court on 22 April.

The cases were brought by AV Business Solutions of DALA (AV Business Solutions – CashX), Fintech Software Solutions – Loanme, Zephyr Solutions (Pvt) Ltd.- Lotus Loan, Oncredit and SF Group (SF Group-Fino.lk).

The plaintiffs sought Rs 500 million in compensation from each defendant for alleged defamation on Facebook and WhatsApp, along with an additional Rs 350 million each. The defendants were accused of spreading false and hateful statements, referring to online loan companies as an “online mafia” and engaging in malicious propaganda under the name ‘Online Mafia Nisa Asadharanayata Lakwuwan’ (Those subjected to injustice due to online credit mafia).

The complainants claimed that their businesses operate within the laws of the country and are regulated by a registered body under the Companies Act No. 07 of 2007. They highlighted that providing loans through online platforms is a common practice in microfinance globally, citing operations in various countries including Poland, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Romania, Spain, Moldova, Vietnam, Philippines, Kenya, India, Mexico, Nigeria, Colombia and South Africa.

The complainants prayed the Court to issue judgments against the defendants for organised distribution of alleged false and illegal statements and indicated their intention to obtain injunction against them to prevent further acts.

BY Hansi Nanayakkara /CT


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