CHIANGRAI TIMES – Timothy John Ward ”SHARKY” is a man of contrasts. In March he made international headlines after stabbing a Canadian tourist Shaun Ohonny, 43, on a South Pattaya beach. He says he was defending a friend and then bragged on his now defunct Facebook page of Paying off the Pattaya Police to drop the charges. Then, according to his now defunct Facebook page the Thai police formally approached him, as a respected local identity, to help them track pedophiles that prey on the town’s children
He talks about how he wants to help the children from being victims which is admirable.
Sharky seems to have an opinion on most subjects – and when it comes to the young bodybuilders who frequent his town for steroids, he pulls no punches: ”I don’t do it to stand in front of a mirror, rub myself in fake tan and win plastic trophies, I do it because it makes me feel good, and who’s business is it to say I shouldn’t? Look at all the damage done by alcohol and tobacco. They cause far more destruction to people’s lives.”
”I take testosterone, I take Deca [a popular, slow-bulking, synthetic steroid] for my joints and muscle tears and I take human growth hormones, which is phenomenal in that it gives me enormous energy and makes me so much more alert.”
Now living in Pattaya Thailand where he can often be seen on his daily walks along the beach front. Nobody knows how Sharky supports himself however it might be from profits he made on high interest loans people in New Zealand. It has been rumored that he has started up a similar operation in Pattaya but at this point it’s just speculation. Efforts by media to learn more information about Timothy Ward has been difficult.
As a youth in New Zealand, Timothy Ward supported himself by playing pool for money. He became known by his associates as “Shark”. He kept the nickname when he migrated to Australia and used it as the name of his company – Shark Financial Services Pty Ltd – a money lending business on the Gold Coast.
From 1996 to 2000 “Shark” (meaning both Ward and his company) lent to people who could not get credit elsewhere. Shark would lend a minimum of $500 to anyone, at interest rates of 156 % and 208 % per annum. Late payment fees could raise the interest rate to 360% per annum. Imprisoned borrowers (there were a few as a lot of his clientele were described as “drug dealers and hookers”) did not have to pay interest while serving their sentence but were expected to “fix things up” on their release.
Repayments had to be made on a weekly basis between Monday and Friday. If not made in this time, Shark would send around collectors. As the debtors had no collateral as security for the loan Shark considered “their body as collateral”. His “collectors” would threaten physical violence or in fact carry it out until the debtor found some means to pay Shark. Some people were given one warning, others weren’t. Threats of violence and actual violence were common practice regardless of sex and age and were directed not only at the borrower but also the borrower’s family and friends. If Shark could not contact a borrower, he considered them a “runner”. Runners were pursued by “the boys”.
After various complaints and a three month surveillance operation from August 1998 until October 1998, the State of Queensland sought to have Shark prohibited from lending money and fined for breaches of the Consumer Credit (Queensland) Act 1994 and the Consumer Credit (Queensland) Code.
Shark claimed that all his loans were made for business and investment purposes and therefore did not come under the Act or the Code, and that some of the transactions were carried out in New South Wales, meaning they could not be considered in a Queensland court.
The judge did not agree. He said that even though borrowers had signed documents that stated the loan was for the purpose of business or investment, they were signed “with a wink and a nod” and that the borrowers could do whatever they wanted with the money. Shark also boasted of having 400 clients that were involved in drug dealing and prostitution. The judge said that this did not come under the business exemption. Furthermore the Act and Code were developed to control loan sharks. The fact that a loan was made by someone from across the Tweed River did not prevent him from ruling on it.
The judge prohibited Shark from providing consumer credit because he had provided it unfairly and repeatedly engaged in unjust conduct. He fined him on breach of 27 lenders contracts. Each breached contract received a fine of $10,000, the total being $270,000. Shark appealed the decisions on the grounds that the penalties impose were too excessive. The Queensland Court of Appeal swiftly dismissed the appeal. The Court found that the penalties Ambrose J had imposed were totally justified.
If you want a fascinating insight into the world of loan sharks, read the transcripts of the conversations recorded and put in evidence in this case.