Ucis fraudsters have assets clawed back after FCA investigation

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The FCA has won its battle to get compensation for the victims of an unregulated collective investment scheme.

Eight men were convicted in 2015 after the regulator’s investigation into a landbanking fraud that cost 110 investors £4.3m.

The group operated unauthorised investment schemes through three companies: Plott UK, European Property Investments and Stirling Alexander.

The companies sold agricultural land to investors at “vastly inflated” prices with the promise of substantial profits which never materialised.

The group used cold-calling tactics to sell land they did not own at the time, employed “high-pressure sales techniques”, and lied about the land’s value, according to the FCA.

The schemes solicitor, Scott Walker, made nearly £900,000 alone from scheme, and was one of five men to be sentenced to a combined 26 years in prison in 2015.

The regulator has now secured confiscation orders against all eight defendants in the case, which is known as Operation Cotton.

Just over £2m will be reclaimed from the defendants and be paid in compensation to victims.

However, those who were defrauded can still only expect just over 40 per cent of the capital owed to them

Walker has received the largest confiscation order at £887,408.

Prison sentences will be imposed if the defendants to not pay up, but they will still have to pay the debt after serving any sentence.

FCA executive director of enforcement and market oversight Mark Steward says: “The FCA will continue to pursue those engaged in financial crime, including advisers and other professionals who facilitate misconduct or who launder its proceeds.

“We will also take action, wherever possible, to address the harm caused by misconduct, including taking action to strip illegal gains from defendants for the benefit of those who have suffered loss as a result.”