Photo: Alex Hope FX
A 23-year-old self-proclaimed currency trading expert who received a wave of publicity after reportedly spending £125,000 on a single bottle of champagne, has been arrested by City regulators investigating suspected unauthorised trading.Alex Hope, formerly a Wembley stadium catering manager, has sought considerable publicity, setting up his own website – alexhopefx.com – and making a number of media appearances.
The Financial Services Authority (FSA) said a 23-year-old had been arrested on suspicion of committing offences under the FSA Markets Act 2000 and the Fraud Act 2006. No one has been charged with an offence.
Hope, who was at his flat in east London’s Docklands with friends and family, refused to comment on the reports of his arrest. “I can’t talk,” he said. “I’ve got no comment whatsoever, to be honest with you … I don’t want to comment on anything.”
Hope, who claims a typical working day for him stretches from 7am until midnight, generated much publicity last month 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 99lb double Nebuchadnezzar bottle of Armand de Brignac champagne as well as further bottles of champagne and vodka.
Newspaper reports of the reveries claimed guests included Manchester City footballers Joe Hart and Adam Johnson as well as Coleen Rooney, wife of Manchester United’s Wayne. A report in the Daily Mail suggested there had been “some scepticism about the receipt, which was released hours after the party”.
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.
In a video interview at the event, featured on Hope’s blog, he said: “How I got started in foreign exchange markets was I read a book called Profiting with Forex and also another book How to Get Started in Currency Trading – this was the age of 19 on my journey to work for my old job.”
Hope 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 learned from a three-year course,” he said.
Hope has created his own YouTube showreel in which he says: “You don’t see a lot of people my age in the City doing what I do. And I feel I have got a lot of good opinions of the markets which you don’t hear from people my age.”
He featured prominently in a sponsored supplement about spread-betting in the Daily Telegraph last May. “Who would have thought I would become a trader in the City? Certainly not me,” he told the paper. “In a year or two, I’d like to set up my own mini hedge fund.”
Hope said that before discovering his interest in currency trading, he earned £21,000 a year working in catering management at Wembley stadium. He claims to have briefly worked “as an FX and commodity trader” for the Forex Academy, a Slough-based website that provides courses in currency trading. Last year, he said he had taught “nearly 100” of his friends the elements of currency trading.
Several companies have been aggressively advertising foreign exchange trading books and courses in recent years, making bold claims about the opportunities on offer in some of the most high-risk financial markets. Offering tuition for a fee, rather than managing other peoples money, is not an activity regulated by the FSA.
On Tuesday, regulators and City of London police officers searched an address in east London “in connection with an investigation into a suspected unauthorised foreign exchange trading scheme.”
Hope last year set up a company called Short Sterling Limited. He and the company’s registrars, Caterham-based AML Benson, are the only directors and no accounts have been filed. He gives his address as a block of flats close to the ExCel Centre by Victoria Dock in east London. According to Land Registry filings, he is not the owner of the lease on that flat.
There is only one Alexander Hope on the FSA’s authorised persons register – a 48-year-old independent financial adviser in Gloucester, with no connection to the Hope believed to be at the centre of the FSA’s inquiries.
It is not illegal to deal on the foreign exchange markets without FSA authorisation. However, there are circumstances where traders investing other people’s funds are required to be registered with and overseen by the regulator. In a recent interview, Hope said: “I use my own money not other people’s.”
Asked for his top tip for investors hoping to make the most out of currency trading, he said: “Sell the euro and buy safe haven currencies (US dollar, Japanese yen, Swiss franc).”