Five scammers who lost more than £2.8m of investors’ money in share fraud schemes have been sentenced to more than 17 years in prison.
The prosecution comes after the FCA probed a high-pressure cold-calling operation that promised guaranteed returns of up to 228 per cent by buying shares in a company owning land on the island of Madeira.
The fraudsters said that had obtained planning permission and would build villas that would generate the returns, but none were paid.
They were told the shares in owned land in Madeira were organised in partnership with Barclays Bank, and that both the Four Seasons and Hilton Hotel chains would purchase the new villas on the land that had been approved for building.
The shares were sold through five companies: Morgan Forbes (UK), Bishops of Mayfair, Wallberg Dillion Reid, Sterling Capital Corporation, and First Capital Wealth from which £660,000 of investor funds were seized in 2014.
One of the six people charged over the fraud carried out through a series of boiler room companies will be sentenced separately after two years of court proceedings.
The FCA is dubbing Michael Nascimento the “controlling mind” and “instigator” of the Madeira property investment fraud, for which Hugh Edwards, Stuart Rea, Ryan Parker, Charanjit Sandhu and Jeannine Lewis were also charged in June 2016.
The sentencing of the all defendants except Nascimento was concluded at Southwark Crown Court in London yesterday.
The sentencing of the group to a total 17.5 years’ imprisonment is the FCA’s second largest ever criminal prosecution.
Nascimento will face court on 14 September where he is expected to be charged as the mastermind and main beneficiary of the fraud.
FCA executive director of enforcement and market oversight Mark Steward says: “These fraudsters callously targeted investors who were often elderly and vulnerable, lying to them to get them to part with significant sums of money
“Despite efforts to conceal and destroy evidence, the FCA, in one of its largest ever investigations, was able to ensure that these criminals faced justice and ended up behind bars.”
More than 100 computers were examined as part of the case, which has seen 287 witness statements and over five million documents placed in the FCA’s Evidence Management System for assessment and review.