£1.4 million boiler room scheme mastermind Samrat Bhandari has been jailed for 42 months by a crown court judge.
Branded as ‘self-centred and devious’ Bhandari was convicted of fraud and financial regulation offences after a 49-day trial at Southwark Crown Court.
His conviction follows that of other gang members Dr Aleem Mirza, Michael Moore and Paul Moore, who were all jailed after admitting similar offences at previous hearings.
Mirza and Michael Moore were both sentenced to 15 months, while Paul Moore was jailed for nine months.
Judge Loraine-Smith told Bhandari he was ‘entirely self-centred and devious’, demonstrating “not a shred of regret” for what he had done nor any sympathy to the investors.
Elderly investor cold-called
He described Bhandari as using the enterprise as his ‘cash cow’ and told him ‘regulation it seems means nothing to you.’
Bhandari 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’.
The case was brought by the Financial Conduct Authority after investors alerted them and the police of a possible fraud.
Between 2009 and 2014, Bhandari sold thousands of worthless shares in Symbiosis Healthcare for around £1.4 million by cold-calling elderly investors and pressurising them to buy a stake in the company.
Mirza had set up the company as a business operating healthcare services in Dubai, which was untrue.
Bhandari acted as corporate adviser to Symbiosis and managed a team selling the shares. The Moore brothers were brokers who were part of that team.
The FCA has already started confiscation proceedings against the gang to recover the money they obtained from investors.
Mark Steward, Director of Enforcement and Market Oversight at the FCA, said: “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.”
Bhandari was also disqualified as a director for 12 years and Mirza was disqualified as a director for eight years.