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FCA bans six men over £4.3m landbanking Ucis scam

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The FCA has banned six individuals from any regulated activity after they took part in an unauthorised collective investment scheme.

The regulator first charged the men with landbanking fraud and carrying out a regulated activity without authorisation in 2013.

Scott Crawley, Daniel Forsyth, Adam Hawkins, Ross Peters, Aaron Petrou and Dale Walker were found to have operated unauthorised investment schemes through three companies: Plott UK, European Property Investments and Stirling Alexander.

110 investors lost £4.3m in the schemes, which were operated without clearance from the FCA.

In 2015, Crawley, Walker, Forsyth, Petrou and Peters were sentenced to a combined 26 years in prison after a court found that they had engaged in a landbanking scam by selling agricultural land to investors at “vastly inflated” prices with the promise of substantial profits.

Walker, who acted as a solicitor for the scheme, took nearly £900,000 in personal profits from the scheme.

Landbanking, the practice where companies cut up and sell land to investors with the promise of an increase in value once it is developed, has been the subject of one of the largest FCA investigations to date: Operation Cotton.

The land is often left undeveloped because of legal or historical reasons, leaving investors out of pocket.

In this case, potential investors were cold-called for patches of land the companies did not yet own.

The FCA says: “Using sales scripts, misleading promotional material, and high-pressure sales techniques they lied about the current and future value of the land. People were persuaded to purchase land at a vastly inflated price, on the false promise of a substantial profit.”

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Eight convicted in £4.3m Ucis fraud

Eight people have been convicted for their part in the operation of a Ucis that led to 110 investors losing £4.3m. The conviction is a result of the FCA’s Operation Cotton, one of the largest investigations ever run by the regulator. Five of the convicted individuals – Scott Crawley, Dale Walker, Daniel Forsyth, Aaron Petrou […]

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Comments

There are 6 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Hopefully jail sentences will follow?

    You may ask why? good question. To let everyone else know that there are serious consequences!

    and NOW.

    I will keep on banging on and on about this. When will we have a sub investment permission for unregulated investments FCA? Its not hard, very simple to implement and will mean my company would not have to pay additional funds levy for the FSCS, which undoubtable will be paying out funds because of these individuals actions.

  2. So what? None of these six names come up on the FCA register, from which one may infer that they’ve never been authorised and have never had any interest in applying to become so. In the highly unlikely event of any of them applying, the FCA could just reject them in five minutes flat. Is there not surely a whole host of other things towards which the FCA should be directing its attention? A pointless gesture.

  3. Nicholas Pleasure 1st November 2016 at 12:06 pm

    What puzzles me is how 110 investors managed to find this scheme but, even with its £1bn annual budget, the FCA couldn’t. The FCA needs to be working quickly to find, investigate and close these schemes BEFORE the loss arises. That is much more important in reducing consumer detriment that banging on about the font size on suitability reports. The FCA fiddles with micro management whilst other peoples money burns.

  4. NP ~ Given that its GABRIEL returns are so monumentally useless, not least because nobody ever examines their contents, the FCA doesn’t know what most DA advisers are up to. What hope therefore of it tracking down unregulated crooks? And who would pay for such endeavours?

    All that can be done is to try to steer people away from unregulated advisers (and towards regulated ones) by way of a carefully planned (and budgeted for) public awareness campaign. To me, that sounds like it would be money well spent. Then again, that’s never been the FCA’s forte, has it?

  5. My first thought when people say there is this super scheme with big guaranteed profits is why are they ringing to tell me about it instead of quietly investing their own money.

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