Between July 2008 and November 2011, eight defendants operated an unauthorised collective investment scheme through three companies: Plott Investments Ltd, which changed its name to Plott UK Ltd, European Property Investments (UK) Ltd, and Stirling Alexander Ltd.
Using sales scripts, misleading promotional material, and high-pressure sales techniques they lied about the current and future value of the land. People were persuaded to purchase land at a vastly inflated price, on the false promise of a substantial profit.
The scheme extracted more than £5m from 110 investors.
The final two confiscation orders were made on 22 May 2017.
The FCA’s investigation, known as Operation Cotton, led to eight convictions with just under £2.2m to be confiscated from all defendants.
Presiding judge Leonard QC has directed that all sums confiscated from the eight defendants be paid by way of compensation to the victims of their crimes, who should expect to receive just over 40% of the capital amount owed to them.
The largest confiscation order was against Dale Walker, who will have to hand over £887,408. The lowest amount was for just £1 to be paid by Ricky Mitchie.
Known as a ‘nominal order’ the Central Criminal Court determined that Mitchie “did not have an interest in any asset”.
Trial one: 8 April 2015
Scott Crawley was convicted of one count of conspiracy to defraud and of operating a regulated activity without authorisation. He was also found guilty of carrying out a regulated activity without authorisation and of possessing criminal property. He was sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment and will have to pay £627,190 in compensation.
The scheme solicitor, Walker was convicted of aiding and abetting the carrying on of a regulated activity without authorisation and possessing criminal property. He was sentenced to five and a half years imprisonment and will pay nearly £900,000 to victims.
Walker was described by the judge at the time as having “deliberately frustrated and delayed the FCA’s investigations”.
Daniel Forsyth was convicted of operating a regulated activity without authorisation and also pleaded guilty to providing false and misleading information. He was sentenced to 15 months, suspended for two years. He will repay victims £62,834.
Brendan Daley was handed a 15-month jail term for conspiracy to defraud and of operating a regulated activity without authorisation, suspended for two years with an electronically monitored curfew for four months. He will pay back £411,815 to investors.
Crawley and Daley were disqualified as directors following action taken by the Insolvency Service.
Trial two: 29 May 2015
Adam Hawkins will have to repay £65,023 to investors having been convicted of conspiracy to defraud and of operating a regulated activity without authorisation.
Mitchie was convicted of operating a regulated activity without authorisation and handed a four-month sentence, suspended for 18 months. He was acquitted of conspiracy to defraud.
However, if Mitchie is found to have an interest in any assets at a later date, he will have to pay
Aaron Petrou also pleaded guilty on 24 October 2014 to carrying out a regulated activity without authorisation and was sentenced to five years. He will repay £4,987.
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