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FSA secures High Court win against illegal land bank
by Michelle Abrego on Feb 11, 2013 at 14:34
The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has won a High Court victory against an illegal land banking firm.
The High Court declared that David Banner-Eve, Stuart Cohen, Asset Land Investments Plc and Asset L.I. ran an illegal land bank by operating a collective investment scheme without FSA authorisation.
The FSA said Banner-Eve and Cohen sold plots of land across the UK through companies that promised investors significant profits within two to three years when the land obtained planning permission and was sold.
Investors were also told by Asset Land sales staff that the company would apply for the land to be ‘re-zoned’ to assist with obtaining planning permission and there were property developers lined up to purchase the sites.
The FSA is aware of about 1,200 investors with some paying between £5,000 and £25,000 for each individual plot of land.
No planning permission has been obtained for any of the site marked by Asset Land to date, said the FSA.
Following this judgment the FSA will seek orders from the High Court banning Banner-Eve and Cohen for life from selling interests in land banking schemes for business purposes in the UK, it said.
The regulator will also seek orders from the High Court for the payment of at least £15 million by Banner-Eve, Cohen and the Asset Land companies to return to investors.
The Honourable Justice Andrew Smith found that in giving evidence at the trial, Banner-Eve had been deliberately dishonest and that he knew about the claims his sales brokers were making to investors.
Cohen did not attend the trial and has not participated in the proceedings.
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