Benjamin Wilson of Southern England, has been found guilty by the UK’s financial regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) for conducting fraud. The fraudster who duped investors to fund a life of luxury was handed down one of the harshest sentences ever issued by the recently appointed FCA. Wilson faces seven years in prison after pleading guilty for fraud, forgery and operating a collective scheme without authorization.
London’s Southern Crown Court, home to some of the most prominent cases dealt with by financial regulators, including the mammoth insider dealing case which saw a CFD broker’s (Blue Index) top management face charges of the ill practise, was the setting for the lengthiest sentence issued by the FCA.
Whilst sentencing Benjamin Wilson for the malpractice, Judge Michael Grieve QC said: “It was an utterly shameless confidence fraud.”
The judge handed down the sentence which was for a total of seven years, this included seven years for fraud, 18 months for not being FCA authorized and two and four years for counts of forgery, with all the terms to run concurrently.
Details of the case found in the official notification on the FCA briefing outlined that Wilson pleaded guilty in December 2013, the investigations found that his firm, Sure Investment, was in fact fictitious and did not have the necessary authorization to operate as an investment management firm.
The fraud impacted over 300 investors who trusted Wilson with £21.8m of their equity. The judge added whilst issuing the sentence: “It was abuse of trust on a massive scale.”
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Tracey McDermott, Director of Enforcement and Financial Crime, commenting on the case in the official press briefing said: “Wilson used his charm and the trappings of apparent success to lure investors. However, his firm was almost as fictitious as his claims to genius. It was little more than a charade acted out at the expense of those who trusted and believed in him. There was only one beneficiary of the scheme and that was Wilson himself.”
The Wolf of Dorset (South England)
Wilson was only 24 years old when he established the firm in 2003, the youngster was attracted to the hi-fi lifestyle often associated with financial traders. The regulator found that during the time Wilson ran his sham operation he collected £21.8m from investors. Of that, only £4.2m was ever traded, with Wilson losing £2.25m.
Wilson’s extravagance saw him spend a total of £6.3 million on a range of items, including a £4m house in the exclusive Sandbanks area of Poole, Dorset; £200,000 on racing and horses; £200,000 on cars, including a Ferrari California; £100,000 on shopping and hundreds of thousands more on leisure and holidays. On one trip to Las Vegas, the bar bill alone was $37,000.
The FCA is regarded as one of the safest regulators for individuals and corporates operating in the margin FX and CFD trading environment. Over the last five years London has been home to an influx of foreign brokers setting up shop to take advantage of the sound reputation the UK holds.
Brokerages from the US, Indonesia, Japan, Cyprus, Russia and India are some of the players that have taken abode in the world’s financial capital in an attempt to export the strong standards of doing business to their niche client base. “The FCA has objectives to protect consumers and enhance the integrity of the financial system. Wilson being put behind bars contributes to us achieving both,” concluded Ms. McDermott.