“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
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 –
- Why SIPP investments appear to have been made before the land was owned by Harlequin?
- Why agents seem not to have confirmed the land position or obtained information on the Caribbean company before they sold the investments?
- Why due diligence undertaken by SIPP trustees and advisers appears not to have included basic checks into Harlequin’s accounts for their Caribbean companies?
‘There is no time to lose’, urges Mr Fatchett, ‘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. We are asking investors to complete a short questionnaire and provide relevant information about their Harlequin investments. Risk Warning will review this information to help us determine the next steps, including possible professional indemnity insurance claims.’
Notes for Investors
For more information about the Harlequin Investor Group or the investor meetings in London , Manchester and Birmingham, contact Risk Warning
Phone: 01384 426 400
Website: Harlequin Investor Group
The London investor meeting, being held on Thursday 11th April, is now fully booked, but Risk Warning are going to be running further investor meetings.
In a Microsoft word format 200k: HarlequinSurvey