Ex-IFA’s landmark jail term for ‘giant Ponzi scheme’ upheld

The UK Court of Appeal has upheld a landmark sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment imposed on former independent financial adviser Phillip Boakes following his conviction on charges brought by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Ex-IFA’s landmark jail term for 'giant Ponzi scheme' upheld

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Boakes was convicted in March 2015 of defrauding investors of at least £3.5m ($5.3m, €5m), using false instruments, and accepting deposits without authorisation.

In March he pleaded guilty to two counts of fraudulent trading and three counts of using a forged instruments; having previously admitted an offence of accepting deposits without authorisation in October 2014.

Classic Ponzi scheme

At sentencing in March, Judge Lorraine-Smith said: “This was a classic Ponzi scheme over a number of years with a large number of victims. Lives have been changed and life savings have been lost. Boakes and his family lived a lavish lifestyle that he could not begin to afford but for his fraudulent activities.”

Boakes claimed to carry out foreign exchange spread betting for customers of his company CurrencyTrader. The scam guaranteed annual returns of 20% or more.

In reality, Boakes was not authorised by the FCA to accept deposits and the promise of guaranteed returns was a sham. The ‘returns’ were funded from the deposit itself or from funds received from new investors.

Record sentence

Boakes’ sentence of 10 years remains the longest total sentence imposed as a result of any prosecution by the FCA or its predecessor the Financial Services Authority (FSA).

Judge Lorraine-Smith said that, without the discount for early pleas, Boakes’ sentence could have been 13 or 14 years.  

Not a day too long

In dismissing his appeal on Monday, Lord Justice Jackson said that Boakes had embarked on a “giant Ponzi scheme” involving very vulnerable victims.

Describing the offences as “extremely unpleasant” and a “gross breach of trust”, Lord Justice Jackson noted that Mr Boakes had led an extravagant lifestyle. In upholding the sentence, the Court considered that a number of the victims had suffered “life changing loss” and as a result 10 years’ imprisonment was “not a day too long”.  

In addition to his convictions, the FCA has also taken confiscation proceedings against Mr Boakes and a Confiscation Order for the sum of £165,731 has been made.  The FCA has also banned Mr Boakes from performing any function related to any regulated activity.

Failure to pay the confication order could result in an additional two years being added to Boakes’ sentence. 

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