Eight people have been convicted for their part in the operation of a Ucis that led to 110 investors losing £4.3m.
Five of the convicted individuals have been sentenced to a total of 26 years’ immediate imprisonment.
Between July 2008 and November 2011 investors were convinced to purchase agricultural land at “vastly inflated” prices and promised substantial profits.
But none of the investors have seen a return.
The defendants were convicted of conspiracy to defraud, breaching the general prohibition by conducting investment business without FCA authorisation, aiding and abetting a breach of the general prohibition, possessing criminal property, and providing false and misleading information to the FSA in a compelled interview.
FCA acting director of enforcement and market oversight Georgina Philippou says: “The FCA will take strong action, through both the civil and criminal courts, against those who operate illegal investment schemes and those who assist them like solicitors.
“People put their homes and retirements at risk on the back of promises of high returns that were never going to be realised. The severity of the sentences shows how seriously the courts view this kind of offending.”