KYOTO (Kyodo) Aiful Corp. President Yoshitaka Fukuda apologized to shareholders Tuesday for the firm’s illegal lending practices that led to a Financial Services Agency suspension order last month.

“I extend my heartfelt apologies for causing so much trouble to those affected,” Fukuda told Aiful’s general shareholders’ meeting at the company’s head office here.

Aiful was ordered by the FSA to suspend part of its operations at all of its nearly 1,900 outlets nationwide in May as punishment for illegal lending practices.

The first FSA order to a top consumer loan firm to halt operations at all branches has sparked discussion on changing lending laws.

Due to the suspension, the company projects its group net profit for the current business year to fall 20.2 percent from the previous year to 52.54 billion yen.

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