RegulationJun 11 2018

FCA claws back thousands more from fraudster

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FCA claws back thousands more from fraudster

The Financial Conduct Authority has secured an increased confiscation order against a convicted fraudster who defrauded investors of over £21m.

Judge Grieve raised the value of a confiscation order made against criminal Benjamin Wilson from £1 to £31,905.33.

The order, which was made at the Central Criminal Court, must be paid within 28 days or Wilson will face a further 14 months in prison.

This comes after Wilson was sentenced at Southwark Crown Court to a total of seven years’ imprisonment for defrauding investors of over £21m in February 2014.

His sentencing followed earlier guilty pleas to offences of fraud, forgery and operating a collective investment scheme without authorisation.

When Wilson was sentenced, a confiscation order in the sum of £1 was made against him in accordance with the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA).

The Court at the time found that his total benefit from his criminal conduct amounted to £21.84m.

But due to his bankruptcy and civil proceedings in the High Court brought by the FCA, it was accepted by all parties that he did not have assets available to him at that time to meet any confiscation order.

As a result, a nominal confiscation order was made.

Mark Steward, executive director of enforcement and market oversight at the FCA, said: “Mr Wilson’s activities defrauded over 300 victims and today’s outcome sends a clear message that crime does not pay.

"The FCA will continue to take steps to ensure that assets are confiscated from those who benefit from their criminal conduct, including seeking increased confiscation orders, where appropriate.”

The new amount of the increased confiscation order represents monies currently held in a Santander bank account in Mr Wilson’s name.

The bulk of the balance in the account is as a result of a payment of £31,825.18 made by the John Lewis Partnership following the death of Mr Wilson’s mother who worked for the Waitrose supermarket chain.

He received the sum as one of three beneficiaries named by her.

In addition, the Judge found that Mr Wilson’s assertion that he had rejected his inheritance from his late mother was a sham and that he is therefore entitled to a one third share of her estate on top of the payment from the John Lewis Partnership.

The value of Mr Wilson’s share will be determined once the estate has been administered and the amount of the confiscation order will be further increased as a result.  It is currently believed that his share is believed to be worth in the region of £145,000.

In late 2015, the FCA was informed of the death of Mr Wilson’s mother. Enquiries revealed that she had died without making a will and that Mr Wilson was likely to have an interest in her estate as a result. Further enquiries also revealed that he had received the payment from the John Lewis Partnership representing death benefits due to him from his late mother’s pension scheme.

Section 22 of POCA allows a prosecutor to invite the Court to reconsider the amount available to a defendant and to increase the value of the confiscation order made against him if it considers it just to do so.

As with all confiscation orders, the assets available do not have to represent the proceeds of crime and they can have been acquired after the making of the original confiscation order.