The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has won a High Court case against a land banking firm which it said sets a precedent that means land bank funds must be authorised collective investment schemes.
In February 2013, the High Court declared that Asset Land Investments, along with directors David Banner-Eve, Stuart Cohen, and another firm called Asset LI, ran an illegal land bank by operating a collective investment scheme without proper authorisation.
Asset Land appealed against Justice Andrew Smith’s decision arguing over the interpretation of what constitutes a collective investment scheme, but this appeal has been rejected. In March, the High Court ordered the firm and directors to return £21 million to investors, but the FCA warned that investors are unlikely to receive back all of their money, and admitted that it has not yet identifed the majority of individuals who poured cash into the scheme.
Following the ruling, FCA director of enforcement and financial crime Tracey McDermott (pictured) warned unauthorised firms ‘we will come after you, we will shut you down’.
McDermott said: ‘Winning this case sets an important legal precedent in the fight against unauthorised business. Firms trying to exploit loopholes to claim that they are not running collective investment schemes should be clear - it simply will not work.’
‘This is a clear warning to any firm selling dubious investments and I reiterate it today: we will come after you, we will shut you down, and we will do whatever we can to ensure money you have taken, no matter how much, or little, is left, is used to reimburse your victims.
‘We constantly see new variations on these schemes. If someone is contacted out of the blue with an offer that is too good to be true it probably is. Put down the phone and keep your money.’