The regulator is seeking compensation orders in favour of investors in respect of losses they have suffered in the Park First scheme, investments in which were sold through SIPPs providers.
The FCA alleges the Park First scheme involved an illegal collective investment scheme established to operate car park investments using funds from members of the investing public.
The scheme raised approximately £230m from 4,500 investors.
The FCA also alleges that the scheme was promoted to the public using false or misleading statements.
The defendants made statements to the effect that investors could realistically expect returns of 10% in years three and four of their investment and 12% in years five and six.
The regulator claims the defendants had “no proper basis” for these statements which were “false or misleading”.
The defendants also suggested that the investments were worth 25% more than the price for which they were being sold, based on independent valuations. However, the Defendants were aware that the valuations were based on unrealistic returns.
The FCA says it is asking the court to order the defendants to pay a “just sum to the FCA to then distribute among the investors” who have suffered loss as a result of the defendants’ alleged contraventions.
The watchdog is also seeking:
• a declaration that the schemes were collective investment schemes and that the defendants have unlawfully established, operated and promoted them (or were knowingly concerned in establishing, operating and promoting them), and that the defendants made false or misleading statements and impressions about the schemes; and
• injunctions restraining the defendants from doing the same again.
The FCA’s proceedings have been brought against chief executive, Toby Scott Whittaker, director John Slater and a number of companies involved or connected to the scheme, including Park First Limited, Harley Scott Residential Limited (previously known as Park First Glasgow Limited), Park First Skyport Limited, Paypark Limited, Help-me-park.com Limited and Group First Global Limited.
Four of the Park First companies involved in the scheme were placed in administration in July 2019.