Victims of a £5.5m unregulated investment scam are set to lose almost half of their money after a judge ordered funds retrieved from two ringleaders be returned to investors.
Southwark Crown Court today ordered almost £2.65m to be returned to around 100 people who fell victim to the scheme, which was established and operated by Alex Hope.
In addition, Hope has been hit with a £166,696 confiscation order which he must pay in full in three months. If he doesn’t, Hope will face a further 20 months in prison on top of the seven year sentence he was handed in January last year.
Today’s order follows a similar order placed on Raj Von Badlo, Hope’s co-defendant, who was ordered to pay £99,819 at a hearing in December. This sum must also be paid in full within three month or he will be hit with a 15 month prison sentence on top of the two-year sentence he was given in January last year.
The FCA says investors will receive “in excess of £2.9m” back following the ruling – just 55 per cent of the sums invested.
FCA director of enforcement and market enforcement Mark Steward says: “This is the largest sum returned to victims of crime following an FSA/FCA prosecution and is the result of quick action in the first instance to restrain the proceeds of Mr Hope’s offending. The FCA will continue to work hard to ensure wrongdoers are held to account not only for their wrongdoing but also for its consequences, especially to victims, to the fullest extent possible.”
The scam centred on Hope’s claim he would trade investor’s money successfully on the foreign exchange markets. In reality, only 12 per cent of the total money investors gave Hope was ever traded and when he did trade, “he lost almost all of the money in his trading accounts”, according to the FCA.
Hope exaggerated his trading abilities and the returns he was making, and used doctored copies of statements from his trading account to mislead investors.
Von Badlo promoted Hope’s scheme to a large group of investors. Over 75 investors gave £4.29m to Hope as a result of Von Badlo’s actions, the FCA says.
Hope used over £2m of investors’ money to fund his lifestyle. He spent over £1m in a casino, over £200,000 on designer watches and shoes, £60,000 on foreign travel, and over £600,000 in bars and nightclubs in London, Miami and New York.