The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has concluded liquidating the assets of three notorious land banking scams and is seeking to locate the remainder of the 820 investors who poured £32.8 million into the schemes between 2005 and 2010.
Seven years after its predecessor the FSA wound up the three schemes, £2.5 million has now been recouped and is available to be returned to investors.
The schemes are Countrywide Land Holdings Ltd, Regional Land and Consolidated Lane, all of which were owned via a Panamanian-registered company, Paradigm. They sold parcels of land across the UK without planning permission to investors for relatively small amounts of money.
Investors were told they would make huge profits when planning permission was gained for the land and later sold to ‘corporate buyers’.
“In reality there was no intention to seek planning permission or help purchasers sell their land and the plots were in locations unlikely to ever gain planning permission, such as areas of outstanding natural beauty,” the FSA said as it wound up the operations.
Two people were connected to the scams; James Maynard and Stephen Watkins. After the FSA decision in 2012 Maynard left the UK and is believed to have been living in Northern Cyprus ever since.
“We will work to resolve this matter and return funds to eligible investors as soon as is possible but we need to demonstrate to the Court that we have taken reasonable steps to identify everyone affected,” says the FCA’s Mark Steward (left)
The assets of a fourth but less notorious scam called Plateau operated by Wasim Minhas has also had its assets liquidated and some funds are being returned to investors.