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FSA wins £32m High Court battle against land banks
by Jun Merrett on Mar 21, 2012 at 09:57
The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has won a legal battle against unauthorised land banking businesses.
The High Court has declared that James Kenneth Maynard, Countrywide Land Holdings and Plateau Development & Land operated a collective investment scheme without authorisation and sold plots of land unlawfully to UK consumers.
Regional Land and Countrywide were trading names used by Maynard.
His Honour Judge Pelling QC banned Maynard for life from selling land for business purposes in the UK and ordered him and Countrywide to pay £31.8 million to the FSA.
Plateau, now in liquidation, was instructed to pay £918,975. A bankruptcy order was also made against Maynard, who is now believed to be living in Northern Cyprus.
Wasim Minhas, director of Plateau was also ordered to pay £75,000 to the regulator.
The FSA said it was still unable to give a figure for how much money will be returned to investors as the regulator has not yet identified any assets that would enable more than a small proportion of these payments to be made. The FSA said it is continuing to make enquiries to trace the funds paid by investors.
Maynard, Countrywide and Plateau sold plots of land across the UK and promised investors they would make a significant profit when the land obtained planning permission and was sold.
Investors were told by sales staff that Maynard, Countrywide and Plateau would apply for planning permission for the land or that they had corporate buyers lined up to purchase the sites when in reality there was no intention to seek planning permission or help purchasers sell the land. Some of the plots were in locations unlikely to ever gain planning permission such as areas of outstanding natural beauty.
The FSA had previously obtained injunctions against Maynard and Countryside in August 2010 that froze assets and prevented them from selling more land to investors. It also secured a similar injunction in December 2010 when it discovered Plateau had been set up to continue the business.
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