Fake FX Trader Gets Jail Term After Prosecco Spending Spree

(Bloomberg) -- A fake foreign-exchange trader -- already imprisoned for duping investors out of 5.6 million pounds ($7.9 million) -- was sentenced to a further 16 months in prison, this time for using funds to buy tickets to see Rihanna instead of repaying authorities.

Alex Hope pleaded guilty earlier this month to perverting the course of justice for trying to hide funds from regulators and investors he cheated instead of handing the money back as required by earlier rulings. On Friday, Judge Deborah Taylor sentenced him, saying he would likely serve half of the term.

Hope, dressed in a plain, gray sweater, didn’t react to the sentence. Having done four months in remand, he will be free to go in four more.

While in prison in London’s southern Brixton area, Hope was granted release days so he could work to make money that he said would be donated to food banks, according to a prosecution statement. He was also required to pay 166,696 pounds as part of a confiscation order. Instead, between April and September 2016, Hope spent 75,000 pounds while on release on items including 42 bottles of prosecco from a supermarket, tickets to see the musical Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, a boxing match, and four tickets to watch pop star Rihanna in concert, it said. The singer featured in Hope’s original case, after he bought a bottle of champagne for her table. 

“Hope repeatedly misled the courts and the FCA, concealing monies that should have been used to compensate the victims of his crimes,” Mark Steward, the Financial Conduct Authority’s executive director of enforcement & market oversight, said in a statement. “He has shown contempt not only to the court, but also those he has harmed.”

Before his arrest in early 2012 at the age of 23, Hope lied about his qualifications and the returns he was getting while taking funds from more than 100 investors. Operating from London’s financial district in Canary Wharf, he splurged about 2 million pounds of their money in a 13-month period, including 950,000 pounds at casinos and 512,000 pounds at clubs and bars, the FCA said at his 2014 trial. He was found guilty of one count of fraud and jailed in January 2015.

Since then, Hope’s legal problems have continued. He had nearly 20 months added to his seven-year sentence in 2016, after handing over just 1,000 pounds of the money he was ordered to repay.

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