A solicitor has been charged with conspiracy to defraud UK investors of more than £5m.
Solicitor Dale Walker of Kent firm Dale R Walker is one of eight men to have been charged by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) 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 contrary to section 19 Financial Services and Markets Act 2000.
Walker has also been charged with money laundering contrary to section 329(1)(c), Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
The charges arise out of Operation Cotton, an ongoing FCA investigation into the activities of three land banking companies: Plott UK Limited (Plott), European Property Investments (UK) Limited (EPI) and Stirling Alexander Limited.
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.
The three land banking companies are believed to have taken more than £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 that resulted in their compulsory winding up in June 2011 and December 2012 respectively.
Dale Walker, Scott Crawley, Daniel Forsyth, Ross Peters, Aaron Petrou, Ricky Mitchie, Adam Hawkins and Brendan Daley have been bailed to attend City of London Magistrates Court on 10 May. Daniel Forsyth has also been charged with providing false information to the FSA contrary to section 177 FSMA 2000.
Dale Walker said: 'These charges are emphatically denied. I am unable for obvious reasons to make any further comment at this stage.'
The FCA (pictured) has said that it cannot provide any further comment or information at this time.