Regulation  

Jailed adviser banned over £2.6m scam

Jailed adviser banned over £2.6m scam

The Financial Conduct Authority has finally banned a financial adviser who pleaded guilty to 24 counts of fraud, scamming a total of £2.6m from 41 victims.

Alok Dhanda was jailed at Newcastle Crown Court in 2014 and has now been banned by the regulator from carrying out any regulated activity.

Dhanda's victims were collectively deceived over a period of seven years while he was an appointed representative of TenetConnect for all but the last two months of his career as a financial adviser.

The FCA said Dhanda, who was released from HMP Kirklevington Grange in February 2017, showed "a serious lack of honesty and integrity".

The court heard how Dhanda convinced victims they were buying property in India but he actually spent their investments on gambling, holidays and an extravagant lifestyle.

On top of this, Dhanda went to his victims, who saw him as a personal friend, for loans claiming he had fallen on hard times, the court heard.

A former client told FTAdviser that Dhanda’s office was decorated with pictures of him playing golf with former England manager Sir Bobby Robson as well as photographs of himself with Newcastle United players.

When Dhanda's house and business address were searched by police, officers found a large stash of money totalling £11,000 and papers regarding his business which they took away to examine.

During the search a briefcase full of condoms was found.

On examining the father of two's phone, officers discovered the contact details of a number of escorts.

Investigating officer Det Con Martin Gibson said after the case Dhanda was finally caught when in 2013 he asked an elderly client on two occasions to withdraw £10,000 from her building society account and lend it to him.

During an interview police officers asked Dhanda if he knew how much he was repaying each month to people he had borrowed money from.

He did not know and was surprised to learn it was approximately £31,000.

Despite the police investigation Dhanda continued to ask his clients for money and in December 2013 he asked one of his clients for £15,000, which he said would be invested in an Indian bank account.

But he then used the money to fund a trip to London where he spent three nights at the Grosvenor House Hotel and gambled the rest.

damian.fantato@ft.com