Niall Hearty of financial crime specialists Rahman Ravelli considers the case.

The UK's Serious Fraud Office (SFO) is set to return a further £1 million to more than 200 people who lost money to a boiler room fraud.

The SFO has announced the pay-out is being made as part of its investigation codenamed Operation Steamroller. It said the case involved one of the biggest ever examples of a boiler room fraud, where people are pressured into buying over-valued or even worthless shares.

The seven-year investigation led to the successful prosecution of Australian national Jeffrey Revell-Reade in 2014, who was jailed for nine and a half years and given a confiscation order totalling £7.5 million.

The SFO has spent years enforcing the confiscation order. It had already returned more than £3 million to victims. The additional £1 million being paid back comes after the SFO secured the funds by targeting a luxury Costa del Sol apartment as part of its enforcement of the order.

Between 2003 and 2007, UK investors were conned out of approximately £70 million by the boiler room fraud run by Revell-Reade. The scheme saw investors persuaded to buy shares that they could not sell for 12 months. When they then tried to sell them, they realised the shares were for valueless shell companies or companies that were not functioning.

Emma Luxton, the SFO's head of proceeds of crime and international assistance, said the outcome showed the agency's "tenacity and commitment to ensuring victims receive the justice and compensation they deserve, no matter the complexity of the investigation or how many years have passed since the crime was committed."

This outcome can certainly be classed as a good news day for both the SFO and those who are having money returned to them. For the SFO, however, this piece of good news comes in a period of turmoil.

The report by former High Court judge and Director of Public Prosecutions Sir David Calvert-Smith into failings at the SFO during its investigation into Unaoil is due to be published in the coming weeks. The long-awaited judgement in the ENRC High Court case involving the SFO is also due in the near future. Both incidents could prove difficult for the agency.

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