The shares were in fact worthless, and the FCA brought criminal charges against the people involved in the scheme which ran from 2009 to 2014.
The FCA said: “Each of the four defendants played an instrumental role in the systematic and prolonged misleading of investors, helping to create a wholly misleading impression as to the value and prospects of Symbiosis.”
Investors were misled over numerous phone calls and meetings in person as well as at Annual General Meetings. The scheme also wrote and published statements on behalf of Symbiosis.
Misleading financial promotions
Symbiosis was a company set up Dr Muhammad Aleem Mirza to provide “healthcare solutions”, with Samrat Bhandari a director of its corporate adviser William Albert Securities which organised the selling of the shares.
Both were found guilty of a number of charges after a 49-day trial at Southwark Crown Court including creating a false impression and carrying out regulated activities without authorisation.
Two brokers responsible for selling the shares directly to investors, Michael and Paul Moore, admitted the same charges in May this year.
Another defendant, Albene Mendy, was found not guilty after the trial.
Mark Steward, director of enforcement and market oversight at the FCA, said: “Misleading financial promotions relating to investment schemes cause untold harm to consumers.
“The FCA is determined to ensure those who are involved in setting up and operating schemes like this one, without FCA authorisation, are identified and held to account to the fullest extent permitted by law.
“In due course confiscation proceedings will be commenced, with a view to securing as much compensation as possible for those who have suffered a loss as a result of this criminal conduct.”
The four defendants are due to be sentenced between 19 and 20 December.