A prosecution led by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has resulted in a man being jailed for seven years over a £21 million fraud.
This is the heaviest sentence ever imposed following an FCA prosecution, and the second longest under either the FCA or its predecessor, the FSA.
Benjamin Wilson from Bornemouth was sentenced at Southwark Crown Court after previously entering guilty pleas for fraud, forgery and operating a collective investment scheme without authorisation.
He was first prosecuted by the FCA in December 2013 after it was found that the unauthorised investment firm he ran, SureInvestment, was a sham, costing investors millions which were used to fund what the FCA described as his 'extravagant' lifestyle.
The firm was set up in 2003 but within months the regulator had informed him that he needed to be authorised to continue to trade or had to close down. Later Wilson lied and claimed he had wound up the firm and repaid his investors.
Wilson then persuaded investors to tell the regulator that he had returned their money, when in reality he had encouraged them to invest in a separate ‘overseas’ fund. Wilson instead placed the money in his personal SureInvestment UK bank account. Only 20% of the total money that investors gave him between 2003 and 2010 was ever traded.
In total, over 300 investors trusted Wilson with £21.8 million. Of that, only £4.2 million was ever traded, with Wilson losing £2.25million.
When the scam was closed down by the FCA, £17.54 million was owed to investors. It is estimated that £5.39 million in total will be recovered.
Tracey McDermott (pictured), director of enforcement and financial crime at the FCA, said: 'The FCA has an objective to protect consumers and enhance the integrity of the financial system. Wilson being put behind bars contributes to us achieving both.'
The sentence, which included seven years for fraud and two and four years for the counts of forgery, with the terms to run concurrently, came after judge Michael Grieve QC said it was an 'utterly shameless confidence fraud'.
'It was abuse of trust on a massive scale,' he added.