Financial Conduct Authority 

FCA action sees £1.4m cold calling scammers jailed

FCA action sees £1.4m cold calling scammers jailed

The operators of an unauthorised investment scheme that lost investors £1.4m have been sent to prison by Southwark Crown Court.

Samrat Bhandari, Muhammad Aleem Mirza, Michael Moore and his brother Paul Moore were found to have misled investors over a prolonged time between 2009 and 2014, may of whom were vulnerable and retired, to put their money in Symbiosis Healthcare.

Mr Mirza set up Symbiosis as a company purporting to offer healthcare solutions and Samrat Bhandari, as director of William Albert Securities, acted as corporate adviser to Symbiosis and organised the selling of company shares, the court found.

It stated both were responsible for publishing misleading statements and exaggerated promotional material which was designed to fool investors. 

Additionally, investors were cold-called by brokers, including the Moore brothers, and mis-sold shares in Symbiosis. 

The court said investors were promised large profits from the operation and expansion of a network of medical clinics in Dubai and elsewhere, but in reality the shares in the company were effectively worthless. 

In total, 300 investors lost just more than £1.4m through the scheme.

Mr Mirza was sentenced to 15 months’ imprisonment and was disqualified as a director for eight years, while Michael Moore was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment and his brother Paul Moore to nine months after both pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing. 

Both Mr Mirza and Mr Bhandari were convicted on 30 November 2017, following a trial at Southwark Crown Court lasting 49 days.

The case was brought by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Mark Steward, director of enforcement and market oversight at the FCA, said: “The perpetrators of this scheme repeatedly misled investors for their own gain. 

“The FCA is committed to ensuring that the operators of unauthorised investment schemes are brought to justice and are accountable for their misconduct.”

Samrat Bhandari, whom the Judge described as “the prime mover” in the sale of shares, had his sentencing adjourned to  late January 2018, and was remanded in custody until that time.

He offered to arrange funds to reimburse investors in this period. However, this offer was subsequently withdrawn, the FCA said.

The Judge said Mr Mirza’s dealings had “brought about his professional ruin” and that he had put his own ambitions and pride before his responsibilities as the director of a company.

He also said Michael Moore knew exactly what he was doing from the outset of his involvement in the scheme. 

Michael and Paul Moore are already serving seven years’ imprisonment resulting from their involvement in a separate investment scheme. 

They will serve their sentences consecutively, meaning they will serve total sentences of eight years three months and seven years nine months respectively. 

They had both previously been disqualified from holding the position of director for 10 years.

At the hearing the FCA commenced confiscation proceedings against each defendant, with a view to recovering the money they gained from their criminal conduct.