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The schemes purported to involve the online purchase of wholesale goods from China for onward sale and promised unrealistically high returns, in some cases up to 100% of the amount invested. In fact, the schemes were an unauthorised collective investment scheme and illegal deposit-taking, in contravention of the Financial Services & Markets Act 2000. No significant trading was conducted and the schemes relied on a continuous flow of new investors to fund existing investors’ returns. Samuel and Shantelle Golding admitted to the Court they were personally involved in these contraventions.
The schemes raised just over £15m from over 1,000 individual accounts. The FCA took urgent enforcement action to stop it and prevent the disposal of the remaining funds. Of the £15m that was raised, £9.25m was paid out to investors as returns and the defendants spent about £2.7m, including significant sums on travel, hotels and retail goods.
The Court order confirms that Mr and Mrs Golding will pay all funds held by them to the FCA for distribution to investors.
As a result of this action, the FCA will take control of approximately £3.4m which will be distributed to affected consumers, leaving them with a loss totalling at least £2.7m.
Mark Steward, Executive Director of Enforcement and Market Oversight at the FCA, said:
‘The FCA took action as soon as it became aware of this illegal scheme, preventing further losses to future investors who would be unable to exit the scheme before it inevitably collapsed.
‘The FCA again reminds consumers not to invest in schemes being offered by firms that are not authorised by the FCA and that look too good to be true, like these ones. In this case, we managed to save some money for investors: too often it is too late.’
The FCA will write to all investors about what steps need to be taken in the distribution process. However, anyone that has invested and not previously been in contact with the FCA, should contact the FCA immediately by calling John Thorp on 020 7066 0316 or emailing [email protected].
Notes to editors
- The FCA investigation commenced in September 2017 and the FCA took enforcement action almost immediately to preserve consumer funds.
- The Order of the High Court (by consent) was made on 28 June 2019. The order confirms that Mr and Mrs Golding accept that they personally contravened and were knowingly concerned in various contraventions of sections 19 and 21 of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (FSMA). It also confirms that both DWL and OEL admit to contraventions of sections 19 and 21 of FSMA.
- The FCA has an overarching strategic objective of ensuring that relevant markets function well. To support this it has 3 operational objectives: to secure an appropriate degree of protection for consumers; to protect and enhance the integrity of the UK financial system; and to promote effective competition in the interests of consumers.