The Forex fraudster Alex Hope has been handed a seven year sentence for cheating investors out of more than £5m.
Hope, who became famous for his extravagant lifestyle and celebrity acquaintances - was sentenced today at Southwark Crown Court, where the judge highlighted the sophistication of the measures he used to convince more than 100 investors he was genuine.
The 25-year-old trader was convicted earlier this month for fraud and operating a collective investment scheme without authorisation. The scheme was closed down by the FCA in April 2012.
The scam, which has been likened to a Ponzi scheme, offered clients returns of up to 100 per cent but in reality his trading was loss-making, losing £500,000 of the £650,000 that was in his trading accounts.
Only 12 per cent of the money he took was ever traded; instead he spent £2m on himself, including - famously - £125,000 on a single bottle of champagne.
He also lost more than £1m in a casino, spent £200,000 on designer watches and shoes and more than £600,000 in bars and nightclubs in London, Miami and New York.
In handing down the sentence HHJ Taylor said the impact on the victims had been significant, but said Hope had “shown no acceptance of [his] own dishonesty”.
Hope’s co-defendant, Raj Von Badlo, who had earlier pleaded guilty, was sentenced to a total of two years’ imprisonment for recklessly making false representations to investors and promoting a collective investment scheme without authorisation.
Georgina Philippou, acting director of enforcement and market oversight, said: “Alex Hope presented himself as a trader with a flair for trading on the foreign exchange markets when in reality he spent a good deal of his investors’ money on himself.
“With the assistance of Raj Von Badlo, Alex Hope enticed dozens to invest considerable sums in his fraudulent scheme.
“This case shows that the FCA will vigorously protect consumers from those who break the law and do whatever it can to get their money back to them.”