Fighting the blight of UK land scams since 2004
Local planning authorities and amenity societies could consider advertising, public notices or use of the internet to give prospective plot purchasers a more realistic idea of the true development potential of their plots. A number of companies now offer small investors the chance to buy small plots of rural land as long term investments. This activity, commonly referred to as land banking or landbanking, is often illegal and may lead to problems for two groups of people.

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FSA to seek £15m in land banking court case
The Financial Services Authority has won a victory in its fight against unauthorised businesses after the High Court declared that David Banner-Eve, Stuart Cohen, Asset Land Investments Plc and Asset L.I. Inc. ran an illegal land bank by operating a collective investment scheme without FSA authorisation.

The FSA will also seek orders from the High Court for the payment of at least £15m by Mr Banner-Eve, Mr Cohen and the Asset Land companies to return to investors.

(Via FT Adviser. To read the full story, click here)

Two men become first in Britain to be jailed for land banking fraud
Two men have become the first in Britain to be jailed for land banking fraud today after conning elderly and vulnerable people out of £3million.

Omar Eshpari, 33, and Stefan Mitchell, 42, masterminded the deception, conning people into buying plots of land that were either worthless or massively over-priced.

A string of fraudulent companies were set up and sold land bought cheaply across England or plots they did not even own.

(Via Mail Online. To read the full story, click here)

Landbanking scams more than £100m from unwary
Over the past two years the regulator has been cracking down on unlawful land banking. During the period, it has obtained interim freezing orders from the courts for 10 unauthorised land banks.

Last year alone, the FSA closed down criminal land banks representing £60m of lost consumer money.

A spokesman for the FSA said: "If we suspect a case of land banking we go to court and get an injunction to immediately freeze the assets."

However, in most cases the regulator is unable to return to money to customers.

(Via FT Adviser. To read the full story, click here)

Five arrests made in FSA land banking investigation
The Financial Services Authority has arrested five people over allegations relating to land banking investments sold through a unauthorised collective investment scheme.

Land banking involves the purchase of land with a view to selling it on at a later date for profit, often as a result of planning permission being obtained.

The FSA does not regulate the sale of land but land banking amounts to collective investment, something that requires FSA authorisation.

The regulator, with support from City of London Police, executed search warrants on nine premises in Kent and Greater London, with five people being arrested as a result.

(Via FT Adviser. To read the full story, click here)

Regency Land is latest landbanking casualty
Another landbanking firm that promised ­investors huge returns if they bought greenfield plots has been shut down.

Regency Land Sales boasted "capital growth with minimum exposure" and "buying farmland is as good as gold".

It wasn't, because the plots were never likely to get the promised planning permission for housing that would make their value rocket.

(Via The Mirror. To read the full story, click here)

Warning over landbanking scams as number of cases double in two years
Britons have been told to beware of 'landbanking' scams after figures released today showed that they had doubled in just two years.

The details released by the Insolvency Service found that the scams, which see investors sold worthless plots of land, had gone up from 15 in 2009 to 30 this year.

The figures also showed that 67 per cent of victims were aged over 50 and above, while 44 per cent were aged over 60.

(Via MailOnline. To read the full story, click here)

Wombourne Plot Owners
A self help website for plot owners at Wombourne has been set up at www.wombourneplotowners.spruz.com.

This website is for members only and is specifically dedicated to the Bridgenorth Road, Smestow, Wombourne site which was brokered by the English Land Partnership some years ago. People who own plots at the ELP Wombourne site are invited to join.

CAD given yet more time for probe
SINGAPORE - The courts have granted a time extension - for the third time - to the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) to continue its investigations into landbanking firm Profitable Plots, while awaiting the expert report from an accounting firm.

Representing the CAD, the state prosecutor argued in the Subordinate Courts yesterday that extending the investigation period was justified due to the large amount of investments involved. The court heard that complaints have now risen to 304 with investments totalling S$30 million.

(Via TodayOnline. To read the full story, click here)

FSA takes fight against land banks to YouTube

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has taken its fight against illegal land banking to YouTube, uploading a four-minute video onto the site to warn investors of the dangers of the schemes.

FSA head of retail enforcement Jonathan Phelan appears in thevideo, and appeals for those contacted by land banks to speak to the regulator.

(Via CityWire. To read the full story, click here)

High Court orders six unscrupulous land banking companies to close
Six companies that mis-sold green belt land for investment to the public have been wound-up in the High Court on public interest grounds following an investigation by Company Investigations ("CI") of the Insolvency Service.

The investigation found that Stowford Place Investments Ltd, ASA Global Investments Limited, Prinston Estates Limited, Alpha Capital Investments (London) Limited, Greenacre Global Partners Limited and Vinci Trading Ltd had all seriously misled the public as to the development prospects of the plots of land they offered for investment and had operated with a lack of commercial probity.

(Via NDS/COI. To read the full story, click here)

FSA secures High Court ruling against £11m land bank
The Financial Services Authority has secured a £920,000 payment for victims of a £11 million land bank in a High Court ruling.

A Hugh Court judge has ruled against Stephen Watkins, who traded as Consolidated Land UK, confirming he sold land illegally to UK consumers  and ordered him to make an interim repayment of £920,000 to his victims.

(Via CityWire. To read the full story, click here)

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