The Financial Conduct Authority has commenced High Court proceedings against Argento Wealth Ltd (AWL) and its sole director Daniel Willis.
The regulator looks to recover money for victims of the unauthorised investment firm’s unlawful activity.
The FCA alleges that AWL unlawfully took approximately £2.8m as deposits under loan agreements and/or as part of an unauthorised collective investment scheme.
It also considers that AWL unlawfully arranged investments in EMB Fund Limited (EMB) totalling about US$9m (£7.5m).
Furthermore, the regulator alleges that AWL breached the restrictions on financial promotion and that Willis was knowingly concerned in this unlawful activity.
Yet, the FCA considers that AWL and Willis have failed to produce credible evidence that AWL can repay the funds borrowed from both retail investors and EMB (plus the interest due). Therefore, AWL is insolvent.
The FCA said it has obtained undertakings equivalent to interim orders freezing AWL’s/Willis’ remaining assets.
“This action has been taken with the aim of protecting investors pending seeking final orders compensating approximately 13 lenders who lent money to AWL and many others harmed by AWL’s unlawful investment promotion,” the FCA stated.
However, the regulator warned that investors who lent money to AWL are still likely to suffer very significant losses.
The FCA was not able to provide exact figures, but it estimates AWL’s remaining assets appear to be far below what would be required to return all investors’ money.
So far, the High Court trial concerning the restitution order has not been yet set.
The regulator added: “The FCA is seeking to resolve all matters as quickly as possible. But the legal proceedings will take time.
“Only after they are successfully concluded will it be possible to return such funds as can be recovered to investors.
“All persons who invested money with or through AWL should seek independent legal advice.”