Alex Hope, a 24-year-old former Wembley stadium catering manager who reinvented himself as a day-trading currency markets expert in a blaze of publicity, has been charged with financial services offences and fraud.
Investigators from the Financial Conduct Authority, the City regulator previously part of the Financial Services Authority, have charged Hope and a second man over the running and promotion of an unauthorised £6m investment scheme.
It is thought Hope and the second man, Raj Von Badlo, of Bourne End, Buckinghamshire, will deny wrong-doing though they could not be reached for comment.
Hope's flat in London's Docklands had been targeted in a dawn police raid a year ago and he declined to comment at the time. In an interview last year, Hope said: "I use my own money not other people's."
It is alleged they took almost £6m in funds from between 150 and 200 investors. Some bank accounts, believed to contain about £3m, have been frozen by the FCA in case these sums are eventually shown to represent funds entrusted to the scheme by investors. Hope and Von Badlo have been bailed to appear before City of London magistrates court on 8 May.
Hope fleetingly became a minor celebrity after reputedly spending more than £200,000 on Britain's most expensive round of drinks at a Liverpool nightclub. He is said to have spent £125,000 on a double nebuchadnezzar bottle of Armand de Brignac champagne as well as further bottles of champagne and vodka.
In the same week, Hope financed the inaugural Fast Growth Entrepreneurs Club networking event at the Westbury Gallery in Mayfair, London. The London Stock Exchange authorised the use of its name as a sponsor of the event, attended by about 60 entrepreneurs and investors, but is understood not to have provided funding.
Hope managed to attract considerable publicity, both online and in newspaper coverage, with great attention paid to his age. He said he studied sports science at university and was barred from switching to economics because he did not have an A-level in maths. Undeterred, he taught himself. "In two to three months, I managed to teach myself what I would have learnt from a three-year course," he said.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010
image: © bloomsberries