19th June 2015
A salesman involved in a landbanking scam that saw 110 investors lose a combined £4.3 million has been jailed for more than six years.
Following a trial at Southwark Crown Court, Adam Hawkins has been sentenced to six years and nine months in prison for his involvement in operating an unauthorised collective investment scheme through three landbanking companies that saw investors lose thousands of pounds each.
Hawkins worked as a salesman and was involved in the management of three land banking companies; Plott UK, European Property Investments (UK) and Stirling Alexander Limited.
These companies were involved in landbanking which sees companies purchase large areas of green belt land which is divided into small plots that are then sold to investors who are promised the investment will grow.
However, most of the plots that are bought and sold on to investors are highly unlikely to gain planning permission, and as such it becomes worthless.
Sentencing Hawkins, His Honour Judge Leonard QC said it was a ‘very substantial and deliberate fraud on the public’ and one which was ‘subtle and cruel’.
He said of Hawkins: ‘Two days before you started at Plott you were arrested for a similar matter. You came to Plott with your eyes wide open. Rather than running a mile from the activities of Plott, you endorsed their fraudulent activities and worked hard to achieve their fraudulent aims.’
The sentencing follows sentences of up to eight years in prison that were handed down in earlier hearings against seven other defendants.
The operation, codenamed Operation Cotton, was one of the Financial Conduct Authority’s largest ever investigations and prosecutions.
Georgina Philippou, acting director of enforcement and market oversight at the FCA, said: ‘This investigation and prosecution by the FCA has led to immediate custodial sentences for eight people totalling 32 years and nine months, showing how seriously the courts view this kind of offending.’