LONDON (Reuters) - Investors tricked out of their cash by jailed fraudster Alex Hope, will see more than half of their money returned, a British court ruled on Friday.
Southwark Crown Court in London ordered almost 2.9 million pounds to be returned to investors who had put money in a fraudulent collective scheme set up by Hope, who was sent to jail for seven years by the same court last January.
It is the largest sum returned to victims of crime following a case brought by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) or its predecessor, the Financial Services Authority, the watchdog said on Friday. The amount is 55 percent of the capital owed.
Hope set himself up as a foreign exchange trader who defrauded investors of 5.5 million pounds, spending the money in casinos and bars. According to UK media he spent more than 200,000 pounds on Britain's most expensive round of drinks at a Liverpool nightclub.
On Friday Hope was made the subject of a "proceeds of crime" confiscation order to the sum of 166,696 pounds, and must pay this in full within three months or have his jail term extended by 20 months.
"The FCA will continue to work hard to ensure wrongdoers are held to account not only for their wrongdoing but also for its consequences, especially to victims, to the fullest extent possible," said Mark Steward, the FCA's director of enforcement.
A confiscation order was made for 99,819 pounds in December against Raj Von Badlo, Hope's co-defendant who received a two year jail sentence.
Steward said the large sum recovered was due to quick action to restrain the proceeds from Hope's offending.
($1 = 0.6919 pounds)
Reporting by Huw Jones; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle