Western Sky Financial ordered to cease and desist
BALTIMORE, MD (June 13, 2013) – The Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation’s
(DLLR) Division of Financial Regulation announced today that it had issued a final order against Western
Sky Financial. Mark Kaufman, the Commissioner of Financial Regulation, has ordered Mr. Martin Webb, the
company’s owner, and other related parties to cease and desist from making unlicensed consumer loans and
from collecting or attempting to collect on such loans previously made to Maryland consumers.
Western Sky advertises on television, and had originated loans via the internet to Maryland consumers.
The Division of Financial Regulation previously issued a summary order to cease and desist in 2011, following
complaints that revealed consumer loans with annualized interest rates ranging from a low of 120 percent to a
high of more than 1,800 percent. Western Sky is not licensed in Maryland, and the rate on the loans far
exceeds that allowed under Maryland law.
“At DLLR, we continue working to combat predatory lending practices and the risks posed by unlicensed
creditors, lenders and collectors,” said Maryland Labor Secretary Leonard Howie. “I applaud the Division of
Financial Regulation for their proactive work to defend Maryland’s consumers.”
Western Sky is located in Timber Lake, South Dakota, on the Cheyenne River Reservation, which is home to
the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. The respondents claimed they were not required to abide by Maryland law due
to tribal immunity. The Commissioner of Financial Regulation concluded that the business model employed by
Western Sky and its related entities, did not entitle them to tribal immunity under relevant decisions of
the U.S. Supreme Court. Western Sky and the other respondents maintain the right to appeal this order to
the Circuit Court of Maryland.
“Western Sky and Mr. Webb sought to exploit the concept of tribal immunity to evade state law and to
prey on vulnerable borrowers around the country,” said Commissioner of Financial Regulation Mark Kaufman.
“Maryland has longstanding licensing requirements and interest rate limits for consumer lending that are
intended to protect its citizens. We are committed to enforcing those protections. It is ironic that
Western Sky has chosen to avoid lending on the reservation or even in the entire state of South Dakota,
yet the company works feverishly to export its products to other states and disregards the protections
to which their citizens are entitled.”
A copy of the order is available on the DLLR website
(PDF document, 3.7MB, download
Adobe Acrobat for free.
The Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation protects and
empowers Marylanders by safeguarding workers, protecting
consumers, providing a safety net and cultivating a thriving
workforce that can meet the demands of Maryland’s dynamic
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