UK’s Serious Fraud Squad investigating Harlequin: Any information welcome!

Harlequin's The Merricks in Barbados. The reality does not match the sales pitch!

Harlequin’s The Merricks in Barbados. The reality does not match the sales pitch!

by Peter Binose

Investors in Buccament Bay Resort are the closest to luck as one can get when wishing for luck for their investment from a company that promised everything and gave very little to very few.  But as luck goes it may be running out even for the Buccament investors.

Those that have invested in Harlequins different projects through like sounding Harlequin companies around the world, have only had bad luck.  They have put their money in to what they thought were rosy investments.  Many were encouraged by island politicians and governments, many of which had been warned of impending problems with Harlequin, yet went ahead and promoted them in such a way that now brings  disgrace to those small and even large nations. People have lost life savings and retirement pensions with help from these government ministers and governments.

Below are some of the Harlequin/Ames projects. I am not sure if any of them are completed or even started other than the Buccament Bay Resort in Saint Vincent. Even that is a hotch potch of building and only 300 cabanas finished out of the nine hundred projection.

Then to cap it all, it’s revealed that Buccament Bay Resort is built next to a frequently flooding river within a known floodplain and within an area known for huge sea surge events and no provisions for flood defence from river or sea. On Christmas Day the Buccament floodplain did its million year old job and dissipated a huge volume of water. Because the resort was in the plain it was severely damaged. Locals are waiting for the next sea surge, waiting to rescue unsuspecting resort guests.

Documentary evidence shows that Harlequin were aware of the flood risk and were going to make engineering design and structures to attempt to counteract the threat. Of course such structure and engineering methods are expensive, so they were not undertaken. They were abandoned and absolutely none of the planned defences were eventually undertaken or built.

How many people invested in the projects below and got nothing for their investment?

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

In 2008, the Harlequin company claimed they had purchased the 71 acre Petit Nevis island.

Harlequin Property are pleased to announce that they have recently bought Petit Nevis island in the Caribbean which will offer discerning clients the chance to have their dream property designed by a renowned architect, offering them total privacy.

Harlequin Island Retreat, with approximately 25 plots of land available for development, will become one of the most prestigious addresses in the world; synonymous with wealth and success, this investment is not for everyone as plots of land alone start from over £1 million.

Dave Ames Marketing Director for Harlequin Property says, “Our continued success in property development in the Caribbean has paved the way for our biggest acquisition to date, Harlequin Island Retreat (HIR). The start of the new millennium saw us focus on property investments that offered the highest specifications but at affordable prices, backed by investment packages that suited individual investor’s needs. Whilst this marketing strategy continues and has proved to be extremely effective and rewarding we were constantly reminded that there was also a market for unparalleled luxury, offering utmost privacy. It was this understanding of the market that led us to invest in HIR, in what will ultimately become one of the worlds leading postcodes.”

HIR in the Grenadines, near Mustique offers 71 acres that will ultimately provide approximately 25 plots of land available for development with the help of the internationally renowned architect Lorenzo Bellini. Each villa will be unique providing buyers with their own signature property. The island will further benefit by the construction of two private beaches along with a hub consisting of the island management company, bar and restaurant.

Prices for building plots start from over £1 million for a minimum of1 acre rising up to £5 million for larger sites. For further information on this exclusive opportunity contact the Harlequin management team.
For further information, visit http://www.harlequinproperty.co.uk

Buccament Bay, St Vincent and The Grenadines. 350 rooms of what will now be a 1,000 room hotel resort will be opened on July 1, 2010.

Brazil

Harlequin Hotels & Resorts is proposing to build on the island of Tinhare in the region of Bahia in Brazil. Harlequin Hotels & Resorts is purchasing 1,700 acres of land in Bahia, Brazil with a view to creating a 5 star luxury spa resort called Garapua Beach Resort. Completion 2014.

Barbados

Merricks Beach Resort is situated in a stunning cliff top position in the south east of Barbados on the ruggedly beautiful Atlantic coast and enjoys spectacular panoramas forged over millions of years by the powerful Atlantic Ocean’s winds and waves. Located in the parish of St Philip, 4km north of The Crane and next to Sam Lord’s Castle it’s just 20 minutes from the Sir Grantley Adams International Airport.
Expected completion of the resort by Christmas 2012.   (BFP editor’s note: Check out reality here.)

Saint Lucia

Marquis Estate Resort. Located in the Caribbean on the tropical island of St Lucia, this unique development is in the advanced stages of planning and expected to begin construction in early 2009  completion 2012.

Australia

Harlequin Property has recently brought Ravenswood Hotel and Resort to the Mandurah property market. Situated on the outskirts of Mandurah, 15 minutes from the sea, the resort will be set in 21 acres of land with a selection of apartments and fully-furnished one, two- and three-bedroom cabanas.

The off-plan development is due to commence in early 2007 with completion by 2010.

Dave Ames, Marketing Manager of Harlequin Property said: “Mandurah is a city expanding at a tremendous rate and quality accommodation such as Ravenswood will be highly sought after. Investors here will receive a two year 10 per cent guarantee followed by a five year 50 per cent room rate share deal along with 30 free days use per year.”

Harlequin is now offering Ravenswood Hotel &Resort at pre-launch prices with fully furnished apartments starting from £100,000.

Thailand

Nirvana is situated in a stunning location at the north western tip of the island of Koh Chang which is on the eastern side of Thailand. Surrounded by lush tropical rain forest it is set amongst 64 acres of beautifully landscaped tropical gardens, with 1.5 km of white sandy beaches bordering the clear, blue waters of the Gulf of Thailand.

Panama

Panama Land Opportunity – An Undiscovered Caribbean/Pacific Paradise And A Once-Only Opportunity To Purchase Land At Only £15,000 Per Plot
£15,000 will buy you … 1/4 acre plot, 20 metres x 50 metres.
Full planning permission granted.
Gated secure community.
Full services provided – water, electricity etc.
Title of land is given.
Plots can be re-sold.
Safe, beautiful area.
Owned and being sold by UK Company.
Payments can be made by cheque or credit card in UK.
£5,000 deposit required, followed by six weeks later by a further £5,000 upon signing of the documents. The final payment of £5,000 is required on receipt of the title deeds.
If you reserve 2 plots of land you will receive a free flight to visit the site.

Building Your Dream Home

Your 1/4 acre plot has ample room to build a large, detached, tropical home from only $500 per sq metre. This is very cheap when you compare with UK building plans, where you can pay £100 per sq foot. As an example, a house in the UK could be costing you £100,000, whereas the same specification in Panama would cost US$50,000 (£25,900). As you can see, building costs in Panama are extremely low.

We are a UK registered company holding a valid consumer credit licence, so you can buy with confidence. We at Harlequin have, through our friends in Panama, the exclusive rights to this park-like setting in a 130-acre development, with 25 acres reserved as common recreation area.

This is a fantastic opportunity to become involved in our exclusive gated development in a beautiful green valley with gentle rolling hills and nearby rainforest. This development is fortunate in having a wonderful backdrop of spectacular mountains in the distance, where rosy light flecks the land at sunset. When you visit you will be captivated by its picture-perfect beauty, which could cover the front pages of a Travel Monthly magazine; we have photos to show you the sheer beauty of this area. This gated community is only 35 kilometres [21 miles] from the metropolis of Panama City and the International Airport, with regular flights to the UK. The development is a mile away from The Pan-American Highway, which provides excellent connections to the city. The Pacific coast and beaches are very close by with turquoise waters, giant coral reefs, sea turtles, swaying palms, coconuts, cashew trees, parrots, pelicans, humming birds, and bright tropical flowers.

This superb development is being undertaken adjacent to another headed by a Canadian and Australian consortium which has already completely sold out. Panama is a safe country. You will find the locals very friendly and helpful.
Please give me a call on 01268 582307 or 07960 958720 or e-mail davidames123@aol.com
David Ames, Harlequin Group

Dominican Republic

Our developments offer a dream holiday home that brings an excellent return on investment. With prices from £25,000, invest in an overseas property at one of our Luxury 5 Star Spa Resorts, offering the following advantages:-  Completion Date
The building of the resort will be starting shortly and the opening is scheduled for Summer 2011.

David Ames, of Harlequin, which is building the Two Rivers development on the Dominican Republic, has part of the answer.

“We have a five star hotel in the complex, and we manage the rental arrangements, with a guaranteed 10% return for the first two years.”

Two Rivers has already proved very successful.

“We launched in November and within three weeks, were completely sold out but as always happens, some people found they couldn’t raise the money after all, and so some 20 units have come back onto the market. That isn’t bad in the current climate,” he explained.

As Mr Ames says, these flats and villas aren’t houses to live in, they are investments.

“You gain 30 days’ free use a year, and the hotel runs your investment, in fact you’re making money from day one.”

It almost sounds too good to be true, a comment often made, according to David Ames, but the product is based on a sound financial model.

“If I sell one of my flats to you today for £100,000, you have to raise 30% of the price, that is £30,000. If you went to Abbey and got that sum, you might be paying £300 a month for the mortgage, but we pay you back that money. Too good to be true?
Looking at the bigger picture, I’m building a hotel, I’m not one of those developers who take your money and disappear.”

As Mr Ames puts it, you and he become investment partners in the complex. He is selling the property off-plan at below market value, which means that when the apartments are ready, they should be worth £150,000.
“And the rental income will pay back your mortgage…”

Last year, Harlequin had a turnover of £217m sterling.

South Africa

South Africa’s Western Cape has a backdrop of the stunning Hottentot and Helderburg Mountain ranges and a spectacular coastline. Harlequin Property has apartments situated in The Strand area, which is edged by 35 kilometres of white sandy beaches and the highest sea water temperatures in the Western Cape. All the apartments have both mountain and sea views and the complex has an infinity pool. Prices start from £330,000 for a two-bedroom apartment, rising up to £485,000 for a three-bedroom apartment. “Property in South Africa has been playing catch up in recent years”, says Dave Ames of Harlequin Property. “In the Western Cape, property prices rose by 46 per cent between 2000 and 2003. Overall, in this region I would estimate that up to 20 per cent of all buyers are from overseas. There is even a thriving British expat community out here now.”

Goa

Goa on the edge of the Arabian Sea, is located in an area of scenic beauty, with attractive beaches, temples, architecture and festivals. “Goa is now a formidable destination for those looking for a holiday home which offers natural beauty and crystal-clear seas, but also capital appreciation in a country where the cost of living is at a fraction of the cost in the UK”, says David Ames of Harlequin Property, which also sells property in Asia. The company is marketing homes at Little Baga in the resort of Arpora in Goa, which is 25 minutes from Dabolim airport. Prices start from £15,000 for a studio, rising up to £36,000 for a two-bedroom apartment. Within the resort there is a communal swimming pool, a tennis court and convenience store. “The cost of living in Goa is incredibly cheap”, says Ames, “and with house prices rising on average at between 20–30 per cent per year, it is obvious why Goa is starting to become a major player within the property industry. “For those looking for a holiday home that can reap an income whilst it is not in use, Little Baga can reward you with £250 per week in the low season and over £300 in the high season”, Ames concludes.

_______

There are other proposed  projects not named here. If it’s not billions of pounds, it’s hundreds of millions that are under investigation.  That is why they are currently in 2014 under investigation by the UK’s Serious Fraud Squad.

If you have any information about fraud in this or any related matter including alleged payments paid to Ministers in countries where projects or proposed projects were to take place please contact the UK police the  ‘Serious Fraud Squad’  by email at:  confidential@sfo.gsi.gov.uk   please quote or head your communication   “HLM 01”. (If you fail to use this reference your message will not be seen by the appropriate department dealing with Harlequin or Dave Ames investigations.) You can head your email in confidence and it will be treated as confidential.

On behalf of the people of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines I personally apologise if you were mislead in anyway into investing in any of the Harlequin projects by our Government or any of its Ministers. If you were, I believe you should consult your solicitors as a group and sue them.

Peter Binose, self appointed keeper of the whistle and blowing hard.

37 Comments

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

37 responses to “UK’s Serious Fraud Squad investigating Harlequin: Any information welcome!

  1. PLANTATION DEEDS FROM 1926 TO 2014 , MASSIVE FRAUD ,LAND TAX BILLS AND NO DEEDS OF BARBADOS, BLPand DLP=Massive Fruad

    When the UK fraud squad do some real work they will reach PLANTATION DEEDS. WE HAVE THE GOOD ON THE CROOKS HERE IN BARBADOS.
    WHAT the hell are they waiting for?
    Remember we stand by out posting of the crooks liars and scumbags.
    Building on land with no clear title , with help of MIA , Owen , COW , HAM , just to start then Town and country Mark Cummings, PM and MOF , TERRA and other selling with out checking nor caring , Money money money , Agents of fraud. 516 495 6270

  2. clickzap

    The Merricks will never be completed. IT was never meant to be completed. It doesn’t even have full government permissions to be built.

  3. The whole business stinks
    Who can I sue to get my deposits back on three sites?

  4. Anonymous

    Yawn, self appointed bore who is just recycling what everyone already known.

  5. Grim reaper

    @ Nicholas.
    You wont get your money back, unless its a SIPP.

  6. PLANTATION DEEDS FROM 1926 TO 2014 , MASSIVE FRAUD ,LAND TAX BILLS AND NO DEEDS OF BARBADOS, BLPand DLP=Massive Fruad

    The Fraud squad of Barbados police dont even charge theses fools,Many of the local lawyers in this mess , So they make sure that Bajan police nor DPP come after them , There are many cases with Sirs and Minister /lawyers taking money with no refunds at all . Money gone and spent,
    The DBLP government is and was made up of many of the same dam crooks liars and scumbags,
    Its about time England step in and deal with the crooks they Knighted,and but them to bed,
    Can you feel the change coming?

  7. Anon

    How long more before the SFO move on the Ames family and Harlequin Group. Ames has been strutting around the Caribbean and US this week again pedalling his wares.

    This thief needs to be stopped now. We are told he has no money yet travels first class and appears to have plenty of funds to wine and dine tour operators this time from the US where he and Dalligan have attempted to resurrect the dead UK sales business.

  8. Anon

    Well why not start with Mr. Richard Sealy who was well looked after by Mr. Ames, Mr. Ronan and Mr. Campion. Ever wonder how Campion is getting BIM government work and he just opened his first business in BIM after closing the HD studios.

  9. worriedinvestor

    Ames has been staying in 5* luxury whilst his investors suffer. Ames will steal all completion monies and then run away totally laughing at you all.

    I gave the SFO all the details.

  10. Anonymous

    i am a investor in this can you tell me if anything is happening with the Las canas resort in the domonic republic.

  11. Anonymous

    There is no full planning permission for las canas, and of course no sign of construction has ever been seen there. Very few people in the Dom rep have heard of harlequin. this resort will never start. We in the Caribbean have been saying this set up stinks of a scam for almost a decade and only now people are realizing it. There has been some solid advice on bfb from local experts, and it still gets ignored. Investors still want to live in a dream world. After madoff and Stanford, you would think authorities would have stepped in sooner.

  12. Masonic revenge

    The Mason’s have told them to hold off, if the Trust fails Ames will be arrested with his family.

  13. Anon

    I’m surprised Ames senior is swanning around the world considering his little protiege son, Matt is currently standing trial for fraud!

  14. Tubal Cain

    Matt Ames is not a Freemason – Ames has sacrificed his son as instructed.

  15. Ashamed agent

    I attended the recent TailorMade agents meeting with Reg legal. After I left I was furious, not only being an investor myself ( 3 units) I felt like a total fool – why?

    Let me try explain. I’m what’s called a ‘sub agent’

    I was ‘Trained’ by TM, I got paid a commission based on obviously, ‘sales’ TM got an ‘override’ for my ‘sales’

    When Gareth Fatchett took us through his presentation with indisputable facts, I realised what a mess Harlequin is in and what if any due diligence TM my ‘mentor’ did.

    I not only bought into this dream, so did my loyal clients who I feel I have wronged. I accept responsibility 100%.

    I honestly don’t see another option other than the Trust.

    What remains to be seen – were TailorMade training the sub agents with information Harlequin gave them?

    I have been fed only negative comments about Gareth Fatchett, until I met the man, I believed them.

    Now I have absolutely no hesitation to recommend my clients to join the Trust, and will be contacting them to do so.

  16. The View From Mount Pleasant

    http://www.echo-news.co.uk/news/10968664.Rainforest_fraud_trial___I_was_this_close_to_deal_with_Barclays_Bank_/

    You do get the feeling that Ames junior’s excuses are being used to see how they play with a jury, might come in handy when Ames senior has to answer the same questions.

    @AA – setting up the Trust will require due diligence, just how can that possibly be carried out when there is no information available in published accounts etc? Given the background can there be any realistic chance that DD will show that there is anything to salvage for the majority of investors?

    The Trust that RL are involved with re the Stadia SIPP disaster Armadillo at least produces something – oil wells are holes in the ground that produce money, HP is a hole in the ground that swallows money and produces nothing!

  17. Anonymous

    Will the people from Barclays Bank be giving evidence that they had talks with Ames, and that they were close to buying the operation from them?
    I bet not.
    @AA ….you were An active participant in what seems to have been a ponzi scheme and are still encouraging your clients to put more money into a worthless Trust? You should be ashamed . Nice story though, some of the more gullible may even believe you.

  18. Ashamed agent

    Some people may even think you want the Trust to fail – I wonder why?

  19. Anonymous

    I don’t care just pointing out the obvious.

  20. BBaywatch

    So, “the process of due diligence has started” according to the latest release from RL. I’m sure that the list of hotel and tourism industry experts that they interview for their opinions on the viability of the HP business will be of considerable interest to readers of this forum. Not to make such a list public would cast considerable doubt on the credibility of any DD process.

  21. Anonymous

    Gareth Fatchet will carry out the most basic of Due Diligence, indeed the trust is being established ahead of any due diligence, it will be then up to investors to join. An interesting post on the other Harlequin related topic at 7.08 pm.

  22. Anonymous

    @ Ashamed Agent. You state Mr. Fatchet provided you with indisputable facts about Harlequin and now you are recommending others to join the trust.

    Firstly what assets are to be held in the trust? And what is the value of those assets?
    What future role will the Ames family have in the running of Harlequin?
    Have you been told or perhaps also been shown demonstrative proof that third party funding will be forthcoming on the establishment of the trust?
    Are you as an owner of 3 units happy to negate your ability to pursue Ames and Harlequin through the courts in exchange for a place in the trust.?

    You already admit to selling Harlequin units on what now appears to be rather dodgy facts. You go to one meeting with Mr. Fatchett or so you claim and as a result, even though you do not know the assets to be placed in the trust nor their value you are now recommending your clients should join the trust.

    You already have done one over on your clients, lets hope they have more sense this time. Your clients would be better off suing you.

    You got your clients to swallow the Harlequin crap, why didn’t you do any due diligence of your own, investing personally in 3 properties as you claim and flogging off properties to your clients should have gotten you to do a little due diligence of your own.

    And given you have previous for swallowing shit, don’t you think it a little premature to be suggesting to your clients to join the trust, given this was your first meeting with Fatchet.

    I hope your clients take you to the cleaners, coming on here playing the I am a victim card. Ames apparently is a victim too. Its all Tailormade’s fault. Good riddance to you. Scum.

  23. EddieLizzard2

    @ Ashamed Agent
    How much did you receive in commission? A nice tidy sum I don’t doubt. DD was easy to find even as far back as 2008 but I bet you shut your eyes to it. Greedy scum.

  24. BBaywatch

    SVG is featured in the Luxury Travel supplement of The Telegraph – not BB of course, as yet again it is Bequia and Petit St Vincent which are singled out for praise. The travel press are well aware of BB, but it has not been covered since the first paid for trips, as everyone knows it just isn’t good enough to be recommended. There is a resurgence, of sorts, in AI tourism to the Caribbean, particularly from N America, but that demand is largely covered by the Sandals products. Sandals have been prominent in expanding recently, buying older hotels and extracting considerable concessions from local governments. Competing against them will be particularly difficult and given the complete lack of expertise in the HP companies it is essential to know what research is being done as part of the DD to establish if there is any realistic demand going forward for the Harelquin brand. Building a resort is not enough, regardless of how many dubious 5 star reviews that you can get posted on TA.

  25. Well I never would have believed that

    Now the bribes have stopped ( mostly) BB is finished.

  26. BBaywatch

    Like many amateur ‘developers’ Ames fell into the trap of building what he himself thought was luxurious. It might appeal to a certain minority type of holidaymaker but…

    It’s a question I have posed before without any reasonable answer, but it is worth repeating.

    Where is there any evidence to support the demand for 1200 unit resort hotels in the Caribbean islands?

    Ignoring such a basic question in the first place lead to the farce that is HP and ignoring it now will mean that whatever the DD produces it will be meaningless as without the numbers of guests and level of occupancy there will never be enough income generated to support the business, let alone produce a return for investors.

  27. Gypsy wedding

    Sadly BBW I agree.

    The sticking point will be getting the information out of Ames – Fatchett will leave no question unanswered but Ames won’t give him the answers!!

    Mexican stand off🙂

    I would advise strict caution regarding any completion monies – they will go straight in the little mans back pocket – why would you not in his position?

  28. BBaywatch

    Looks as if the Harlequin trolls wanted this thread buried. Usually means that you have hit a nerve.

  29. BBaywatch

    If a Trust is the only option worth considering, and as RL have experience of either setting up a Trust or participating (their actual role seems to be disputed) in one (Armadillo Energy/Stadia SIPP) surely the most convincing evidence would be information on how that Trust is performing and benefiting the investors – no?

    HP were never clear (deliberately obfuscating) about details and actual events and as the business moves into a new phase (if it does) under RL guidance through a Trust unfortunately very little clarity emerges. No wonder that investors feel confused.

  30. Beggars Belief

    @BBaywatch. Thanks for sharing. Now there is an interesting defence!

    “Ames admitted he “jumped the gun” in telling an investor he had purchased land in Brazil to protect rainforest to generate carbon credits.”

    Are we going to hear a similar line in Court soon albeit from a different member of the Ames family?

  31. ayes have it

    its a carbon copy of what ames senior will probably say ……………

  32. Ben

    There are thieves that hail from the North – far, far North – who bring shame to your fair Island by snubbing your consumer protection laws, especially those against misleading and deceptive advertising. Time…Just give it time. In our own sweet time, in our own sweet way you’ll expose them for what they are. Only then will their crooked enterprises come to a halt.

  33. Naughty ......

    According to Ames last night the investors in Brazil knew they were investing in land he had not purchased AND most have had full refunds.

    So what’s all the fuss about?

  34. Pingback: Harlequin Properties Investments £400 million Scam (Evidence to consider) - Timeshare Consumer Association - Timeshare Consumer Association

  35. Anonymous

    I wonder what a “Harlequine” investment is?