Samrat Bhandari sentenced in FCA prosecution of £1.4 million investment scheme

Samrat Bhandari, who played a prime role in the operation of an investment scheme which led to investors losing just over £1.4 million, was today sentenced at Southwark Crown Court to a total of 3½ years’ imprisonment. He was also disqualified from holding the position of director for 12 years.

In sentencing, Judge Loraine-Smith stated that Mr Bhandari had been ‘entirely self-centred and devious’, demonstrating “not a shred of regret” for what he had done nor any sympathy to the investors. He described Mr Bhandari using the enterprise as his ‘cash cow’. The Judge said ‘regulation it seems means nothing to you.’

Bhandari, who was convicted following a trial at Southwark Crown Court lasting 49 days, had offered to repay the investors in the scheme but later withdrew his offer in a move described by the judge as ‘another example of your manipulative nature’.

His sentence follows that of Dr Aleem Mirza, Michael Moore and Paul Moore who were also given sentences of imprisonment at an earlier hearing for their involvement in the investment scheme which attracted more than 300 investors.

Commenting on the case, Mark Steward, Director of Enforcement and Market Oversight at the FCA, said:

‘Mr Bhandari was the controlling mind in this scheme and he deliberately abused his position as a corporate advisor to exploit hundreds of vulnerable investors for his personal gain. This prosecution by the FCA reflects our commitment to protect investors by bringing the operators of unauthorised investment schemes such as this to justice and the sentence shows how seriously the courts view this kind of offending.’

The FCA has already commenced confiscation proceedings against each defendant with a view to recovering from each the benefit they gained from their criminal conduct. In due course, the FCA will invite the Court to order that sums confiscated from the defendants are used to compensate the victims of their crimes.

Between 2009 and 2014, mainly elderly and vulnerable investors were targeted and mis-sold shares in Symbiosis Healthcare plc (‘Symbiosis’) through a combination of cold-calling, pressure sales and the publication of exaggerated promotional material. Symbiosis was set up by Dr Aleem Mirza and purported to be a successful company offering ‘healthcare solutions’ in Dubai and elsewhere in the world. In reality, the shares in the company were effectively worthless and investors lost a total of just over £1.4 million in the scheme. Samrat Bhandari, as director of William Albert Securities Ltd, acted as corporate advisor to Symbiosis and organised the selling of Symbiosis shares, while brothers Michael and Paul Moore were part of a team of brokers.

The FCA was assisted in the investigation and prosecution by a number of other law enforcement and government agencies, including the City of London Police, as well as by a number of investors in the scheme.

Notes to editors

  1. Samrat Bhandari was sentenced to 3½ years’ imprisonment for Count 1 (creating a false impression, contrary to section 397(3) of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (FSMA)); 15 months’ imprisonment for Count 2 (carrying on a regulated activity without authorisation, contrary to sections 19 and 23 FSMA); and 3½ years’ imprisonment for Count 4 (creating a false or misleading impression, contrary to section 90 Financial Services Act 2012). The sentences are to run concurrently. Count 3 was ordered to lie on the file. He was also disqualified from holding the position of director for 12 years.
  2. On 20 December 2017, Muhammad Aleem Mirza and Michael Moore were both sentenced to 15 months’ imprisonment and Paul Moore was sentenced to 9 months’ imprisonment. Muhammad Aleem Mirza was also disqualified from being a director for 8 years. Read a more detailed sentencing press release.
  3. Samrat Bhandari and Muhammad Aleem Mirza were convicted on 30 November 2017 following trial. Michael Moore and Paul Moore had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing. Read a more detailed press release about the prosecution.
  4. If you believe you have suffered a financial loss as a result of this criminality, please e-mail [email protected] without delay.
  5. 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).
  6. 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.
  7. Find out more information about the FCA.