A man has been jailed for seven years after defrauding 300 investors through an elaborate trading scam in a prosecution brought by the FCA.
Benjamin Wilson was sentenced at Southwark Crown Court today.
He ran a scam under the name SureInvestment, an unauthorised firm based in Dorset which claimed to carry out futures trading for the benefit of investors.
Between 2003 and 2010, Wilson took £21.8m in deposits from investors, many of whom were his personal friends.
He claimed to be trading the money and generating monthly returns of up to 9 per cent.
But in fact the money was spent on extravagant business and lifestyle expenses, including a £4.7m house in Sandbanks and numerous trips to Las Vegas.
FCA criminal prosecution lawyer Alan May says: “The whole of SureInvestment was a charade. Almost nothing about the company was as it appeared – in many ways it was the emperor’s new clothes form of investment.”
Wilson forged numerous documents, including company accounts, in what the FCA describes as one of the most elaborate scams it has ever seen.
Some £17.5m is owed to investors, of which the FCA has recovered £5.4m, leaving estimated losses of £12.2m.
The FCA says investors can expect to receive back 31p in the pound.
FCA director of enforcement Tracey McDermott says: “The huge amount of effort that went into creating a legitimate façade for the company was much greater than in most cases of this kind.
“Wilson used his charm and the trappings of apparent success to lure investors. However, his firm was almost as fictitious as his claims to genius. It was little more than a charade acted out at the expense of those who trusted and believed in him. There was only one beneficiary of the scheme and that was Wilson himself.
“The FCA has an objective to protect consumers and enhance the integrity of the financial system. Wilson being put behind bars contributes to us achieving both.”
The sentence is the longest for anyone prosecuted by the FCA, and the second longest under either the FCA or the FSA.
Sentencing Wilson, judge Michael Grieve said: “It was an utterly shameless confidence fraud.
“The purpose was to give himself a lifestyle of untold lavishness and luxury. It was abuse of trust on a massive scale.”