A MAN who attracted investors and companies using a robot-powered investment website has been ordered to pay back nearly £1m.
Alexander John Hunter has to pay back £986,508.54 after he admitted setting up the company Global Marketing Corporation. But the 21-year-old walked free from the courtroom yesterday, despite receiving more than £1.5m in payments from subscribers and promoters over the past three years.
Hunters's company ran the doublingstocks.com website, which claimed to provide investment advice to customers generated by a share picking robot named Marl.
It attracted a number of paying subscribers over a three-year period.
Since starting the site, the company had received more than £1.5m in payments from subscribers and promoters.
Hunter, of Whitley Bay, North Tyneside, pleading guilty to providing unregulated financial advice at Newcastle Crown Court yesterday, and was ordered to pay back the cash.
He was also sentenced to 12 months imprisonment suspended for two years and 200 hours of unpaid work, and ordered to pay £3,000 towards the costs of bringing the case to court.
A Crown Prosecution Service spokesman said: "It took some time to bring Hunter to justice but ultimately he has had to pay for the crime he committed.
"This type of offence is sometimes called white collar crime but in fact it is no different to any other crime. Hunter broke the law and is now being made to pay for of his actions.
At yesterday's hearing, Hunter pleaded guilty to one count of contravention of general prohibition on regulated activity.
He admitted providing investment advice when he was not authorised under the Financial Services and Market Act (2000), between April 27 2007 and July 12 2010
He also pleaded guilty to one count of contravention of restrictions on financial promotion.
Between April 27, 2007 and July 12, 2010 he admitted communicating an invitation to engage in investment activity when the content of the communication had not been approved for the purposes by an authorised person.
He was acquitted of the offence of fraudulent trading.