Harlequin’s Derelict Hotels and the Disappeared £400m

 

I recently wrote about the Harlequin Property scam (see footnote on this link) and its apparently very similar MO to Bacolet Bay – get investment from UK investors via IFAs and SIPPs for Caribbean resorts that would never be built. Harlequin director David Ames was made bankrupt late last year and is the subject of an ongoing Serious Fraud Office investigation. Here’s an update via the Money Marketing website, which would appear to hold out some hope for Bacolet Bay victims…

 

The Financial Services Compensation Scheme has released new information on how the recovery of money for clients from the Harlequin group is progressing.

The Harlequin group is a well know collection of companies involved in the marketing, sales and development of overseas investment properties.

Many of these are unregulated investments and have featured prominently in many upheld Financial Ombudsman Service decisions.

In an update published today the lifeboat fund says it has recovered just under £300m from failed financial services firms since 2014.

The same update sheds light on the action that has been taken against Harlequin in what the FSCS calls one of its “most interesting, current recoveries cases”.

Harlequin sold speculative overseas property developments promoted by a UK registered company, Harlequin Management Services (South East) Limited.

Customers purchased, through UK-based IFAs and Sipp providers (and sometimes directly), various off-plan property development investments and hotel rooms.

These were primarily in Caribbean resorts operated by offshore Harlequin overseas resort development companies.

Approximately 6,000 investors invested a total of around £400m in the projects, with in some cases the same property being sold to multiple investors.

Some investing in this location had completion dates as early as December 2013. The FSCS says there are many reasons the Harlequin developments failed and, ultimately, investor funds were not used to develop the resorts.

The common ownership of Harlequin is shared between David Ames and/or his family members.

Ames is subject to an ongoing prosecution by the Serious Fraud Office while he and his wife have both been made bankrupt.

A number of Harlequin entities are now in formal insolvency processes and the FSCS has compensated in excess of 2,700 investors who had collectively invested more than £125m.

The FSCS is currently pursuing recoveries against various Harlequin entities, largely through the insolvencies which are already afoot in the UK, St Vincent and the Grenadines, St Lucia, Barbados, and the Cayman Islands.

See original article at https://www.moneymarketing.co.uk/harlequins-derelict-hotels-and-the-disappeared-400m/

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