The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has charged eight men with conspiracy to defraud following investigations into land banking activity.
Scott Crawley, Daniel Forsyth, Ross Peters, Aaron Petrou, Ricky Mitchie, Dale Walker, Adam Hawkins and Brendan Daley have been bailed to attend City of London Magistrates Court on 10 May 2013.
The men have been charged with conspiracy to defraud contrary to common law between August 2008 and November 2011 and criminal offences relating to the carrying out of a regulated activity without authorisation or exemption.
The charges arise out of Operation Cotton, an ongoing FCA investigation into the activities of three land banking companies: Plott UK Limited, European Property Investments (UK) Limited and Stirling Alexander Limited.
These companies are believed to have taken over £5m from UK investors between 2008 and 2011.
The FCA's predecessor, the Financial Services Authority (FSA), had previously successfully brought civil proceedings against Plott and EPI which resulted in the compulsory winding up of these companies in June 2011 and December 2012 respectively.
Dale Walker, a solicitor with Dale R Walker Solicitors, has also been charged with money laundering contrary to s329(1)(c) Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
Additionally, Daniel Forsyth has been charged with providing false information to the FSA.
Land banking companies divide land into smaller plots to sell it to investors on the basis that once it is available for development it will soar in value. However, the land is often in areas of natural beauty or historical interest, with little chance of it being built on.
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