A businessman has fled the country after being ordered to pay back £32 million to the Financial Services Authority which his company fraudulently obtained.
The director of the company sold plots of land in various counties, promising buyers large profits when planning permission was obtained on the sites.
But the plots were in locations unlikely to ever be built upon, such as areas of outstanding natural beauty.
Last month the High Court ordered the director to pay almost £32 million to the Financial Services Authority (FSA).
A bankruptcy order was also made against the man and he is believed to be living in northern Cyprus now.
Tracy McDermott, acting director of enforcement and financial crime at the FSA, said: "We have to be realistic about the low probability of securing meaningful compensation for victims of these scams, but this is still an important victory.
"Proving that a land bank is operating a collective investment scheme – and should therefore be FSA-authorised – is very complicated, so every success puts us in a stronger position to tackle other schemes.
"This decision sends a message to other land banks that we will not sit by and let them con investors out of their money. Indeed we have also started court actions against others that we believe have been involved in Maynard's scheme."
Always check a firm is authorised
Ms McDermott added: "Anybody investing in land should always have it independently valued to check its worth.
"Furthermore, if you are ever sold land as an investment with the promise of fabulous returns, and on the basis that someone else will manage it for you as part of a wider site, you should check the firm is authorised by us."
For further information visit the Financial Services Authority website.
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To report a fraud, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use our online fraud reporting tool.