As the decade comes to a close, it is clearer than ever that victims of investment fraud need justice. The dirtiest stain on society is that of pension and investment fraud. Scammers have made fortunes out of pension and investment scams in the UK and across the globe – in all leading expat jurisdictions. With little sign of this international crime abating, scammers continue making fortunes out of relieving people of their life savings.
Meanwhile, the very authorities which should be preventing financial crime – regulators; law enforcement agencies; HMRC; Insolvency Service; government; courts – stand around clueless and helpless. Their inaction is embarrassing and disgusting – especially in the wake of the appalling announcement that Andrew Bailey has been appointed governor of the Bank of England.
The saddest thing – for our society in general and existing victims in particular – is that it can be done. But we must ask ourselves why the criminals are brought to justice so seldom. On 20th December 2019, FT Adviser published an article reporting how one fraudster was brought to justice and ordered to pay redress to his victims.
Manraj Singh Virdee of Dynamic UK Trades Ltd conned 24 victims out of more than £600,000. His method was to promise returns of 100% for investing in his forex trading and spread betting “expertise”. The FCA brought a case against this criminal who was convicted by Southwark Crown Court. The sentence was only a suspended prison sentence for running an unauthorised investment scheme. However, the court made a confiscation order against Singh Virdee of £171,913 – to be used to compensate the victims. If he doesn’t pay, he will be sentenced to two years in prison.
It is indeed good to know that during a prolonged period of being asleep at the wheel, the FCA can do a wee bit of regulating. But why does Manraj Singh Virdee deserve to be sentenced for defrauding 24 victims out of £600,000 when so many other scammers have got away with defrauding many thousands of victims out of many £ millions?
Victims of Investment Fraud need Justice: In 2020, pressure must be brought to bear on the inattentive, lazy and negligent authorities who have done nothing. It is simply not acceptable to turn a blind eye to so much financial crime. This is especially true when cases like the Singh Virdee one clearly demonstrate that if only they could be bothered, they could actually clean up the scamming industry. But, first, they have to want to do it. And as things stand, there is no evidence that they really do want to.
While this would-be forex trader and spread better faces a couple of years behind bars, the rest of the scammers are still out there scamming away merrily and profitably. Shouldn’t 2020 be the year to make pension and investment scamming illegal? Because as things stand, the scammers know they can get away with it easily.
Singh Virdee’s scam was pretty obvious, and I do not mean to trivialise the £600k he scammed out of his victims. But this is dwarfed by Stephen Ward‘s £3 million London Quantum pension scam; David Vilka‘s £7 million GFS QROPS scam; Stephen Ward and James Hadley’s £10 million Capita Oak pension scam; James Hadley’s £21 million Trafalgar Multi Asset QROPS investment scam; Phillip Nunn and Patrick McCreesh‘s £25 million Blackmore Bond investment scam; Stephen Ward’s £27 million Ark pension scam; Phillip Nunn and Patrick McCreesh‘s £41 million Blackmore Global investment scam; Old Mutual International and Leonteq‘s £94 million investment/life bond scam; London Capital & Finance‘s £230 million mini bond scam; Dolphin Trust‘s £600 million derelict property loan scam.