Daily Archives: April 10, 2013

Harlequin: The promises and the reality

Harlequin & David Ames: Knew sales agents were lying to investors.

Harlequin & David Ames: Knew sales agents were lying to investors.

The promises!

David Ames pumped a computer generated paradise and a Ponzi pyramid scheme that required ever more ‘investors’ to keep it going.

Merricks-Barbados-Bankrupt

The Reality!   (click on photo for large size)

The Merricks, Barbados

Abandoned a few weeks ago. Now a visual blight on the coast because our Barbados politicians let it happen for a few dollars and a glass of champagne or two.

(Big shout out to a loyal BFP reader who took the photo. See you at Marcia’s Place, Oistins on Friday night!)

Lawfirms inundated with victims

“Law firms Kobalt Law, Carter Lemon Camerons and Regulatory Legal have been inundated with calls from investors for advice over their Harlequin holdings.

Nicolette-Elizabeth Crozier, spokesman for CLC, said a series of meetings has been set up in its London offices throughout April for those parties who have been affected or concerned.

She said: “Clients will be attended by one of the senior lawyers who specialise in civil fraud claims.”

Investors attending the free initial meeting are required to bring copy documentation prior to attending to enable CLC to provide case-specific advice.”

… Complete Financial Times article: Law firms inundated with Harlequin Property calls

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Filed under Barbados, Consumer Issues

Lawyer’s urgent advice to Harlequin investors: “Fast deteriorating situation… No time to lose… safeguard your money” before professional indemnity insurance coverage stops!

“There is no time to lose particularly if you are an investor in Harlequin Property SVG Ltd, Buccament Bay Resort or other Harlequin resort development companies. We strongly recommend that you review your legal position now so that claims can be set in motion to safeguard your money.”

Gareth Fatchett of Regulatory Legal Solicitors / Risk Warning / Harlequin Investor Group

“Once Harlequin fails, new claims against your financial adviser’s professional indemnity insurance coverage stop. Better file a claim now!”

Marcus Davidoff of Barbados Free Press

Harlequin Resort

Investors who put their faith in Harlequin are still left in a vacuum

Investors clamouring for answers from Harlequin, the beleaguered Essex-based overseas property company, say the silence from the company is conspicuous. This was the overwhelming response to a survey of over 150 investors conducted by Risk Warning, the law firm specialising in class actions on behalf of distressed investors. (Risk Warning was formerly Regulatory Legal)

The key findings of the survey (attached) reveal that –

  • Contractual completion dates for properties they purchased through the Harlequin Property Scheme between 2008-10 were not met by two thirds of those surveyed
  • In cases where mortgages were taken out by investors and Harlequin promised to support the mortgage interest payments, 50% said they were not up to date
  • 40% of investors asked for their money back from Harlequin but only two have had the money returned
  • 45% of investors were told the Harlequin investments were low risk and a further 40% did not receive a description of the investment risk

Since 2006 all the investors surveyed have been paying into the Harlequin scheme by cash, through their pension scheme, or by remortgaging their existing properties. In a fast deteriorating situation surrounding Harlequin, which was to have been the subject of a cancelled BBC Panorama programme on 25th March, developments include –

  • Severe problems with interest payments on borrowings due under the terms of Harlequin’s agreement with investors
  • An FSA alert questioning the suitability of advice given by advisers who recommended Harlequin as an appropriate pension-based investment
  • An investigation by the Serious Fraud Office and Essex Police who are seeking information from investors in Harlequin schemes in the Caribbean and elsewhere
  • The decision by TailorMade Independent (TMI), a leading IFA and Harlequin distributor to stop taking SIPP investments in Harlequin
  • The resignation of Harlequin’s recently appointed accountant, BDO Stoy Hayward

Commenting on the findings of the survey, Risk Warning’s Gareth Fatchett says: ‘What is clear to us is that investors are unnerved by the lack of information from Harlequin, causing fear, doubt and uncertainty about the safety of their investments. We believe that the responses we have had to our survey are indicative for thousands of Harlequin investors up and down the country. We are now pressing ahead with claims on behalf of an additional 20 Harlequin investors seeking refunds due to missed completion dates. We have also set up meetings in Manchester , Birmingham and London this week for investors who are seeking answers to delays with Harlequin projects.’

Mr Fatchett continues: ‘Amongst a whole range of accounting and governance issues, questions we are asking include – Continue reading

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Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Consumer Issues, Offshore Investments