Two men have been found guilty of misleading investors in an scheme which lost more than 300 people in excess of £1.4m.
In a case brought by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), Samrat Bhandari and Muhammad Aleem Mirza were yesterday charged with a number of offences including misleading investors and participating in regulated financial activities without authorisation.
Bhandari and Mirza will join brothers Paul and Michael Moore, who pleaded guilty for offences relating to the same scheme at an earlier hearing, in being sentenced later in December.
“Misleading financial promotions relating to investment schemes cause untold harm to consumers,” said Mark Steward, Director of Enforcement and Market Oversight at the FCA.
“The FCA is determined to ensure those who are involved in setting up and operating schemes like this one, without FCA authorisation, are identified and held to account to the fullest extent permitted by law.”
Between 2009 and early 2014, brokers including the Moore brothers cold-called investors – many of whom were vulnerable, retired people – and mis-sold them shares in a company called Symbiosis Healthcare.
Symbiosis was in fact set up by Mirza, a medical doctor, to provide “healthcare solutions”. Bhandari, as a director of corporate adviser William Albert Securities Ltd, organised the selling of the shares.
The investors were promised large profits, and “extravagant” claims were made about the investment opportunity in operating and expanding a network of clinics in Dubai and elsewhere.
More than 300 people invested around £1.4m, but the shares were effectively worthless. The FCA said each of the defendants “played an instrumental role in the systematic and prolonged misleading of investors” face-to-face, on the phone and through annual general meetings, as well as by publishing material on behalf of Symbiosis.
Another defendant, Albene Mendy who worked for William Albert Securities, was found not guilty.