The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has expanded its penalties against six alleged fraudsters that were convicted of various offences including conspiracy to defraud, conducting investment business without authorisation and possessing criminal property.
For their roles in running an unauthorised investment scheme which lost 110 investors more than £4.3 million ($5.26 million), Scott Crawley, Daniel Forsyth, Adam Hawkins, Ross Peters, Aaron Petrou and Dale Walker have been prohibited from performing any function in relation to any regulated activity.
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Between July 2008 and November 2011, the group was involved in operating a collective investment scheme through three companies: Plott Investments Ltd, which changed its name to Plott UK Ltd, European Property Investments (UK) Ltd, and Stirling Alexander Ltd.
The ringleader Scott Crawley is now serving an eight-year sentence, while his solicitor sidekick Dale Walker got five-and-a-half years. Accomplices Ross Petersen got five-and-a half years in jail, Aaron Petrou got five years and Daniel Forsyth got two years. Brendan Daley and Ricky Mitchiegot received suspended sentences.
According to the FCA findings, the gang sold more than 100 victims agricultural land that was bought for minimal amounts, as well as land they did not own. Using misleading promotional material, they lied about the current and future value of the land which prompted investors to purchase it at a vastly inflated price, on the false promise of a substantial profit. The scheme extracted at least £4.3 million from investors and none of them have seen a return.
Commenting on the case, Georgina Philippou, acting director of enforcement and market oversight at the FCA, said: “The FCA will take strong action, through both the civil and criminal courts, against those who operate illegal investment schemes and those who assist them like solicitors. People put their homes and retirements at risk on the back of promises of high returns that were never going to be realised. The severity of the sentences shows how seriously the courts view this kind of offending.”