Financial Conduct Authority  

FCA calls on investors in land bank Ucis to reclaim funds

FCA calls on investors in land bank Ucis to reclaim funds

Victims of a fraudster who was sentenced to four years in prison for his part in running an unauthorised land banking investment scheme could soon recoup some of their lost funds. 

Samuel Exall, the former director of Synergy Land Group, was convicted of conspiracy to commit fraud in 2016 after raising £3m from members of the public as part of an unauthorised collective investment scheme. 

In an update today (October 9) the Financial Conduct Authority said it had recently recovered funds from assets Exall was forced to sell, although it specified eligible investors would only receive a "small sum". 

The regulator urged victims who invested in the unauthorised scheme to contact the FCA, even if they no longer had any documentation relating to the investment. 

Mark Steward, executive director of enforcement and market oversight at the FCA, said: "If you believe you were an investor in this unauthorised scheme, please get in contact with us.

"Although we will only be able to return a small sum to eligible investors, we are keen to ensure that as many investors as possible benefit from our work to secure and realise assets."

Between 2009 and 2011 Synergy Land Group raised millions by using high pressure tactics to persuade investors to buy small sections of land with the promise it would secure planning permission and sell the sites as one large plot. 

The company told victims it would negotiate with a developer to return a "large profit" to investors. 

While the FCA does not regulate the sale of land, it does regulate collective investment schemes and a firm must be authorised by the FCA to promote or operate a CIS in the UK. Neither Synergy nor Exall were authorised.

The land banking scheme was investigated by the FCA and in June 2011 the regulator began civil action against Synergy Land Group and Exall, eventually freezing their assets.

In October 2016 Exall was convicted and sentenced to four years in prison and disqualified from acting as a company director for seven years. 

rachel.mortimer@ft.com 

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