The FSA has secured High Court winding-up orders against two unauthorised firms for operating a bio-fuels collective investment scheme.
Bio Partners Limited and Zambia Alpha One LLP both operated a collective investment scheme which invested funds in the farming of a bio-fuel crop in Africa, despite neither having FSA authorisation to do so.
The regulator gave management of Bio Partners and Zambia Alpha time to present an alternative solution to the scheme – which took in almost £1m from UK investors – and prove that the scheme was being managed competently.
The FSA says no solution or evidence was presented so it served petitions to the Court on November 15, 2010.
Participants in a collective investment scheme do not have day-to-day control over the management of their assets with the FSA acting as an authorised operator.
FSA managing director of enforcement and financial crime Margaret Cole says: “If things go wrong for people who’ve invested with an unauthorised business they rarely get any money back because the firms are not covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.
“The FSA has a sharp focus on consumer protection and we are determined to do all we can to protect consumers from the perils of unauthorised business. Anybody considering whether to invest in agricultural or crop schemes like this should only deal with FSA authorised firms.
“Operating a collective investment scheme is a serious business requiring FSA authorisation. Without the proper authorisation, neither Bio Partners or Zambia Alpha had any business running one of these schemes and put investors’ money at risk.”