Today, His Honour Judge Grieve QC sitting at the Central Criminal Court increased the value of a confiscation order made against Benjamin Wilson, a convicted fraudster, from £1 to £31,905.33. The increased order must be paid within 28 days or Mr Wilson will face a further 14 months in prison.
The amount of the increased confiscation order represents monies currently held in a Santander bank account in Mr Wilson’s name. The bulk of the balance in the account is as a result of a payment of £31,825.18 made by the John Lewis Partnership upon the death of Mr Wilson’s mother who worked for the Waitrose supermarket chain. He received the sum as one of three beneficiaries named by her.
In addition, the Learned Judge found that Mr Wilson’s assertion that he had rejected his inheritance from his late mother was a sham and that he is therefore entitled to a one third share of her estate on top of the payment from the John Lewis Partnership. The value of Mr Wilson’s share will be determined once the estate has been administered and the amount of the confiscation order will be further increased as a result. As at today’s date, his share is believed to be worth in the region of £145,000.
Mark Steward, Executive Director of Enforcement and Market Oversight at the Financial Conduct Authority said:
“Mr Wilson’s activities defrauded over 300 victims and today’s outcome sends a clear message that crime does not pay. The FCA will continue to take steps to ensure that assets are confiscated from those who benefit from their criminal conduct, including seeking increased confiscation orders, where appropriate.”
On 14 February 2014, Benjamin Wilson was sentenced at Southwark Crown Court to a total of seven years’ imprisonment for defrauding investors of over £21 million. His sentencing followed earlier guilty pleas to offences of fraud, forgery and operating a collective investment scheme without authorisation.
When Mr Wilson was sentenced, a confiscation order in the sum of £1 was made against him in accordance with the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (‘POCA’). The Court found that his total benefit from his criminal conduct amounted to £21.84 million. However, due to his bankruptcy and civil proceedings in the High Court brought by the FCA, it was accepted by all parties that he did not have assets available to him at that time to meet any confiscation order. As a result, a nominal confiscation order was made.
In late 2015, the FCA was informed of the death of Mr Wilson’s mother. Enquiries revealed that she had died without making a will and that Mr Wilson was likely to have an interest in her estate as a result. Further enquiries also revealed that he had received the payment from the John Lewis Partnership representing death benefits due to him from his late mother’s pension scheme.
Section 22 of POCA allows a prosecutor to invite the Court to reconsider the amount available to a defendant and to increase the value of the confiscation order made against him if it considers it just to do so. As with all confiscation orders, the assets available do not have to represent the proceeds of crime and they can have been acquired after the making of the original confiscation order.
The FCA obtained a restraint order against Mr Wilson on 26 November 2015 in order to preserve the value of assets in which he had an interest pending the outcome of the FCA’s investigation and the conclusion of the further confiscation proceedings that followed.
Notes to editors
- Details of Mr Wilson’s original sentence.
- The 'sentence in default' is the term of imprisonment to be imposed if a defendant does not satisfy his confiscation order. In the event that a sentence in default is served, a defendant is still required to satisfy the debt, as well as any interest that has accrued.
- On 1 April 2013, the FCA became responsible for the conduct supervision of all regulated financial firms and the prudential supervision of those not supervised by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA).
- The FCA has an overarching strategic objective of ensuring the relevant markets function well. To support this it has three operational objectives: to secure an appropriate degree of protection for consumers; to protect and enhance the integrity of the UK financial system; and to promote effective competition in the interests of consumers.
- Find out more information about the FCA.