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FCA Investigations

The Financial Conduct Authority (“FCA”) regulates the conduct of more than 56,000 businesses. Whether you are regulated or unregulated, any business or individual can face an enquiry or a criminal investigation by the FCA.

The investigation may start with an invitation to attend a compelled interview. Compelled interviews are a long-standing feature of the criminal and regulatory landscape in the UK. The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has the power to compel persons to answer questions under section 2 of the Criminal Justice Act 1987. The Financial Conduct Authority has a similar power under section 171 of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (FSMA).

Responding to an enquiry or an investigation by the FCA requires specialist knowledge and care to avoid enforcement action including: prohibition of individuals carrying out regulated activities, withdrawing a firm’s authorisation, suspension, fines, making public announcements about disciplinary action and criminal investigations.

Powers of the FCA range from: regulation under the Financial Services Markets Act 2000; regulating EU and UK Competition Law including use of cartels and other potentially anti-competitive agreements and the abuse of dominant persons; and prosecuting criminal offences including those under the Fraud Act 2006 or the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.  

Compliance at the early stages of the enquiry or investigation could avoid matters escalating into a criminal investigation.  ABV Solicitors have a wealth of experience in these matters and can provide you with the specialist knowledge and guidance each step of the way.  

Whether you are seeking advice to ensure that your business is compliant, have received an enquiry letter, require representation at an interview conducted by the FCA or facing a criminal investigation, contact a member of our specialist team. 

Notable Cases

R v H – FCA Investigation

Insider dealing and market manipulation allegedly conducted by a Senior Officer of a well-known household PLC. The said Officer of the company received internal confidential information where he allegedly used that information to conduct spread betting.

Operation Eastleigh – Southwark Crown Court

Deposit taking investment scheme amounting to circa £1 million where investors were allegedly made false promises of returns. The FCA further allege breaches under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000.

R v D – Maidstone Crown Court

This case concerned a multi-handed and serious conspiracy to defraud investors of circa £1/2 million of fine wine. Most of the targeted investors were vulnerable and elderly. The fraud was protracted and highly sophisticated.

Operation Haselmere – Investigation Stage

An investigation conducted by the Financial Conduct Authority summarised as a “boiler room fraud” where unauthorised investment advice was offered and shares were sold at pre-initial Public Offerings. The said loss is around £4.5 million where a large number of shares sold were for public limited companies. The FCA allege that a number of front companies were used to disguise the true purpose of the business and to show that its operations were legitimate.

R v P – Investigation Stage – FCA Investigation

This case concerns a series of companies who were running a land banking scheme which fell into the description of a collective investment scheme this falling foul of the FSA Management Act. The case is said to be one of the biggest prosecutions brought.

Operation Ryeland – Southwark Crown Court

The City of London Police investigated this investment fraud which related to the miss-selling of land and carbon credits under three land banking schemes, operated by 8 defendants, who together conspired to defraud investors of approximately £3 million by making false representations about the development value of the investments.During the investigation 3 of the defendants  also set up a new company selling carbon credits. The police used intrusive surveillance techniques such as the installation of covert cameras in offices used by the defendant.

Operation Tidworth – Southwark Crown Court

Said to be one of the largest investigations conducted by the FCA in a share fraud carried out through a series of boiler room companies which led to the loss of £2.8 million of investors’ money. Defendants were alleged to have purchased a land in the Madeira Island in Portugal and offered shares to investors promising guaranteed returns.

Operation Cotton – Southwark Crown Court

The defendant is one of eight alleged to have been involved in a land banking fraud going back to 2008. Investment opportunities related to acquiring plots of undeveloped land in the expectation that these would be sold to major developers at a profit. Over £5 million in investors’ funds was alleged to have been obtained. Our client is charged with conspiracy to defraud and carrying on an unauthorised investment business contrary to the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000. The charges arose out of Operation Cotton, an FCA investigation into the activities of three land banking firms – Plott UK, European Property Investments (EPI) and Stirling. The case hit the headlines as it was also the first case to be affected by the response of the Bar to the MOJ decision to cut VHCC rates. Members of the Bar returned all VHCC cases following cuts in funding by the Legal Aid Agency. Alex Cameron QC was instructed to represent our client and successfully applied to stay these proceedings on the basis that the State’s actions, which had left these defendants unrepresented, amounted to an abuse of process and meant they could not have a fair trial. The Court of Appeal overturned the decision and Counsel were reinstructed.

Operation Nacho – Leeds Crown Court

This matter relates to a multi-handed and large -scale property investment fraud involving a York based property club called Challenor Property Developments. The value of the fraud was estimated in excess of £2 million. The case involved  over 130 franchise victims.

R v N – Old Bailey

The defendant was charged with Conspiracy to Defraud. This allegation involved the misrepresentations to investors re the sale of Green Belt land and Carbon Credits. There were a number of defendants who were charged with this matter. Net loss was in excess of £6 million. Defendant acquitted of the fraud relating to land and retrial ordered in respect of carbon credits.

Key Individuals

Deepak Vij

Deepak Vij

Director

Akhtar Ahmad

Akhtar Ahmad

Director

Amirah Ajaz

Amirah Ajaz

Solicitor

Rohit Sharma Fraud Crime Solicitor London

Rohit Sharma

Solicitor

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