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Man jailed for role in £4.3m Ucis fraud

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A man has been sentenced to prison for his role in an unauthorised collective investment scheme through three land banking companies.

Adam Hawkins was sentenced to six years and nine months in jail at Southwark Crown Court today following the FCA’s Operation Cotton investigation into the scheme in which 110 investors lost £4.3m.

Hawkins worked as a salesman and was involved in the management of the three land banking companies Plott UK, European Property Investments (UK) and Stirling Alexander.

His sentencing follows sentences of up to eight years imprisonment handed down in earlier hearings against seven other defendants as part of the same investigation: Scott Crawley, Dale Walker, Daniel Forsyth, Brendan Daley, Aaron Petrou, Ross Peters, and Ricky Mitchie.

FCA acting director of enforcement and market oversight Georgina Philippou says: “This investigation and prosecution by the FCA has led to immediate custodial sentences for eight people totalling 32 years and nine months, showing how seriously the courts view this kind of offending.

“This prosecution demonstrates that we will not shy away from taking firm and decisive action to protect consumers and the integrity of the financial services industry, as well as holding individuals and companies to account for illegal investment activities.”

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Comments

There are 3 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. So, op COTTON took over two years and cost something of the order of £2.5 million to stop eight unauthorised people.

    I’m genuinely interested to hear the views of the usual posters on this site about how much they’re willing to pay the FCA to stop all the people that “something must be done” about. Let’s say – to keep the math simple – there’s 25,000 adviser firms out there; that would mean you’ve paid an average of £100 each to fund op COTTON. Or, put another way, every one of you needs to stump up something like £15 to stop each unauthorised person you’re upset about.

    I still think project BLOOM is the better model for tackling this sort of problem, but because it could be one of a number of agencies that gets the result, joined-up reportage is unlikely so you could be forgiven for thinking nothing’s been done.

  2. Adam, I think you are missing the point of the concerns of some of the advisers who speak about unregulated activities and unauthorised persons.

    It is the responsibility of the FCA to regulate financial advice including pensions and the activities of advice givers, yes there are other agencies that do regulate pensions but it is the FCA who regulate personal pension advice both personal and company (as per COBs). The FCA also has a statutory objective to protect the consumer and indeed the integrity of financial services which many including me would argue that they fail because they do not take greater action on unauthorised firms.

    You talk about how much will financial advisers be prepared to pay to close down unauthorised firms? Well I would argue that a lot of this problem could be solved by greater public awareness of regulated advisers both in TV adverts and by having a better FCA web site register as the present one is not fit for purpose. Is it a no wonder that the general public are confused about financial advice when the government continue to undermine regulated financial advisers and indeed use confusing language. For example what is meant to be the difference between simplified advice and full regulated advice or even guidance advice. All of these terms simply confuse the consumer and make it easier for the scammers.

    As for the costs of closing down unauthorised firms then this could be partly funded by the fines levied on financial services firms or even the recovery of assets from criminals operating within financial services, the fact is by stating that the problem is too big and complicated to do anything is simply ludicrous. As I have said many times before you cannot regulate one part of the industry while letting the other side have free fretted to do what it wants and probably more important holding up the side that you do regulate to ever-increasing higher standards that don’t apply to the un-regulated firms. A very good example of this was a well-known journalistic website which I will not name but needless to say the individual made multiple millions while claiming to be a journalist just to use that loophole. Icelandic banks anybody or even a cheap car insurance quote not.

  3. The FCA seem to be doing a good job in clearing the flight path for consumer centric financial planning. The world of financial planning needs to change. Explaining the risks and real term yields.

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