An illegal collective investment scheme that conned millions out of 4,500 investors has drawn the wrath of the Financial Conduct Authority.
Park First raised around £230m ($297m, €266m) from elderly investors who bought spaces in multi-storey car parks based around the UK.
The FCA alleged that the investment scheme was promoted using false or misleading statements, claiming investors could expect 10% returns for the third and fourth year of their investment, and that would have risen to 12% for the following two years.
Additionally, those involved in Park First suggested these investments were worth 25% more than the price they were being sold.
These claims were based on “independent valuations”, the FCA said, even though the people who took part in the scheme admitted they were based on unrealistic returns.
The regulator is now looking to receive a court order binding Park First’s senior management to pay an unspecified sum to the FCA, which will then be distributed to those who lost money.
The financial watchdog is seeking:
- A declaration that the schemes were collective investment schemes and that the defendants have unlawfully established, operated and promoted them (or were knowingly concerned in establishing, operating and promoting them), and that the defendants made false or misleading statements and impressions about the schemes, and;
- Injunctions restraining them from doing the same again.
The people involved in the case are Park First’s chief executive Toby Whittaker and director John Slater.
The companies at the heart of the scam are Harley Scott Residential (previously Park First Glasgow), Park First Skyport, Paypark, Help-me-park.com, and Group First Global.
A further four companies that were part of the Park First Group entered administration in July 2019. They were:
- Park First Freeholds;
- Help Me Park Gatwick;
- Park First Glasgow Rentals; and,
- Park First Gatwick Rentals.