Category Archives: Consumer Issues

Harlequin’s David Ames disobeys court order, fails to give evidence in court. What now for investors?

David Ames - Harlequin's Ponzi King

David Ames – Harlequin’s Ponzi King

TLW Solicitors are here to help on a no-win no-fee basis

contributed by TLW Solicitors

Following recent reports of the Harlequin Properties’ headquarters going up for sale and the company’s chairman David Ames failing to give evidence in court, those who have lost out financially through the scheme are assured that they may still be entitled to compensation.

The Harlequin Property company was set to build 6000 luxury properties in the Caribbean, financed by deposits from UK investors. With only 300 of the properties actually built and the Harlequin Group having gone into liquidation, thousands of investors have been left in debt.

Rip Off Britain

The BBC’s consumer affairs programme Rip Off Britain investigated Harlequin Property for a second time earlier this year, after an initial broadcast in 2010. Although some early investors had been able to claim back their money, the returning of more recent deposits has been ruled out by the company since it entered liquidation.

Around 3000 UK investors are thought to have been involved in the Harlequin investments scheme. Chairman David Ames blamed the problems on the 2008 global recession and claims to have been let down by developers.

Recent evidence suggests the Harlequin case has been flawed from the start, with suggestions that it never owned much of the land it intended to build properties on, and a business model that relied wholly on continued foreign investment. (BFP Editor’s note: It’s called a ‘Ponzi Scheme’. We’ll say it, even if TLW Solicitors won’t.)

Investigations into Harlequin hotels & resorts

Harlequin Property has been subject to an ongoing investigation by the SFO (Serious Fraud Office) since 2013 and two warnings by the Financial Services Authority (FSA).  Continue reading


Filed under Barbados, Business, Consumer Issues, Crime & Law, Offshore Investments

Code of Silence in effect over CL Financial Bailout

by Afra Raymond

by Afra Raymond

Sad to say, this CL Financial bailout is resembling a situation in which well-connected persons are getting what they can, any way they can, but making sure not to get caught. Who were the beneficiaries of this lavish payout? What is this reluctance to release details?

That is the Code of Silence in effect.

I was not at all surprised at the reported statements of the Minister of Finance, Larry Howai, on the 22 July 2015 High Court judgment ordering him to provide the detailed information I had requested on the CL Financial bailout. The High Court granted a 28-day stay of execution and the Ministry is reportedly in consultation with its lawyers, claiming that “A decision will be made within the period of time allowed by the court,”. The article closed with this quote –

“…Finance Minister Larry Howai said in the statement it should be noted, none of the requests refer to “how over $25b was spent in the Clico bailout”…”

Given that the very request was for the detailed financial information which has been deliberately suppressed since 2009, it is of course impossible to say with any certainty just how much Public Money was actually spent on this CL Financial bailout. That is the inescapable fact at the center of this scandal. The Minister’s tautology is really a powerful explanation of this point.

The fundamentals are that Public Money must be managed and accounted for to a higher standard than that which applies to private money. That is the accepted position in terms of good practice in public administration. Larry Howai is a qualified accountant and was a career banker before his appointment as Minister of Finance & the Economy. I do not accept that Howai is unaware of these standards. We are entitled to a full and detailed accounting of how this vast sum of Public Money was spent…

… continue reading this article at Afra Raymond’s blog: CL Financial Bailout – The Hidden Truth

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Filed under Barbados, Consumer Issues, Corruption, Economy, Trinidad and Tobago

Currency trader illegally made US$300 million for UBS Swiss Bank – He goes to jail, the big-shots keep their jobs and bonuses!!

UBS Swiss Bank Fraud

“But so far, no senior executives have been prosecuted in a scandal that helped shred public faith in an industry and has cost some of the world’s biggest banks and brokerages $9 billion in fines and seen 21 people charged…”

Oh my children; gather round and Daddy will tell you a story of how the world really works…

In 2006 Tom Hayes was an intelligent nice young man of 25 years old who loved the numbers of finance; so much so that UBS Swiss Bank hired him to be a yen derivatives trader for their Tokyo office.

And Tom did an excellent job for UBS – earning the Swiss bank over US$300 million dollars in three years and 45,000 trades. YIKES!

Excellent job except for one thing… Tom was conspiring with other people to rig the markets, and he sent out thousands of emails to do it.

Did his bosses know? Ha! Does cheese go well on toast?

Now Tom and a few other low level people will probably be going to jail.

But the bosses? Everything be so fine, just fine. UBS and Citigroup paid fines, but none of those bosses will go to jail or lose their jobs.

Children… this is the way the world is.

Same same in Barbados. Everywhere.

Say… do we have branches of UBS or Citigroup in Barbados? Really? Well…

Insight – How Libor whiz Rain Man became ‘the guy everyone was going to blame’

He was so obsessed with the numbers that he did not see his downfall coming.

The first trader convicted by a jury in the global Libor rate-rigging scandal was a maths whiz nicknamed “Rain Man”, who slept as an adult under a superhero duvet cover he had owned since he was eight.  Continue reading


Filed under Barbados, Consumer Issues, Corruption, Crime & Law, Offshore Investments

Caribbean justice: Bank collapse settles after 30 years

Pennies on the Dollar

Joke of the Day – Pennies on the Dollar…

“… tremendous relief to the many suffering depositors”

BASSETERRE – Clients who lost money when the Bank of Commerce closed some 30 years ago were put on alert by Prime Minister Dr Timothy Harris that a legal settlement had been arrived at that allowed for the payment of $15 million.

Prime Minister Harris made the revelation during today’s sitting of National Assembly.  He noted that the court settlement will bring “tremendous relief to the many suffering depositors in the Bank of Commerce,” noting that “a fresh start has now come to the depositors.”

… read the entire sad tale at the Nation News


Filed under Business & Banking, Consumer Issues, Corruption

Grenville Phillips II: Thousands of new Barbados houses vulnerable to collapse due to lack of building standards


“It is a national disgrace that strains the limits of irresponsibility that the Government of Barbados, against all expert advice, allowed an entirely unregulated 14-year building boom with respect to building standards. Of the thousands of houses built, almost all of them are vulnerable to collapse in a major earthquake. It is to Barbados’ tragic misfortune that it would not have cost any additional money to have constructed the life-saving shear walls that the Building Code specified.”

Grenville Phillips II

Every Bajan or foreigner living in Barbados should attend at Grenville’s Weighed in the Balance website and have a read of Put Your House in Order.

Do it now.


Filed under Barbados, Consumer Issues, Disaster

David Ames running from the courts: Percival Stewart v Harlequin Properties

David Ames - Harlequin's Ponzi King

David Ames – Harlequin’s Ponzi King

Both Affidavits can’t be true!

Some interesting reading from a recent court case [March 2015] in St Vincent where Dave Ames is no stranger to litigation.

Percival Stewart v Harlequin Properties (Caribbean) Limited et al

In this case  on Page 4 the judge rules on the audacious delays by Ames in filing statements…

“Mr Commissiong deposes that Mr Ames lives in England and travels a lot globally making it difficult for him to be in Saint Vincent to testify. Implicit in Mr Commissiong’s averments is the notion that for those reasons, it was impossible or extremely difficult to contact Mr Ames, receive instructions from him, or arrange for him to sign a witness statement. I make the observation that the CPR permits a party to file and serve a witness summary if he is not able to provide a witness statement, and that a witness does not need to be in the jurisdiction to sign or attest either document.”

(download court document pdf here)

Now this is totally the opposite of what lawyers and Ames claimed last October 2014 (in the group of 33 investors failed case) when the judge was told that the company was NOT run from Essex. (See Judge rules against Harlequin investors in £1.8m court case)

“The case did not centre on whether or not the investors were owed money, a point which deputy judge Nicolas Strauss QC noted ‘does not appear to be in dispute’. Instead it focussed on whether a UK court could wind up Buccament Bay, given that the company was incorporated in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

While the investments were sold through Essex-based Harlequin Management Services (South East), which filed for administration in April 2013, Strauss ruled that Harlequin’s ventures including Buccament Bay were not run with ‘bird’s eye management from Essex’. He agreed that they were largely managed in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and therefore this was the correct jurisdiction to apply for a winding up petition.”

The fact that Mr Commissiong’s claim that Ames couldn’t possibly find the time to be in St Vincent for the Stewart case makes a complete nonsense of Ames’ submission to the UK court that the Harlequin business was entirely run from the Caribbean and therefore the UK court’s jurisdiction does not apply.

Quite obviously both Affidavits cannot be true and both evade bringing Harlequin and Ames to account.


Filed under Barbados, Consumer Issues, Corruption, Crime & Law, Offshore Investments, Real Estate

Harlequin selling Headquarters building for £525,000 – Where is the £400million taken from investors?

harlequin headquarters fraud

We’d say it was like selling off the family silverware, except there is no silverware left. Probably never was any.

After slickly removing £400 million from little old ladies and transit pensioners, David Ames and his gang are selling off their headquarters to pay the bills.

The Serious Fraud Office and the Essex Police have had an open file on the bunch since early 2013, but after two years Ames is still walking around with the rotting financial corpses of thousands of victims in his wake.

Two years should be long enough for the police and the SFO to do the job. What’s the delay?

From the Professional Adviser…

Troubled Harlequin puts HQ up for sale

Troubled overseas property investment scheme Harlequin has put its headquarters up for sale.

The warehouse and offices in the Honywood Business Park in Basildon have been listed for sale on property website Rightmove for £525,000. Harlequin owner David Ames would also consider leasing back the first floor offices at a rent of £25,000 per year, according to the advert.

A spokesperson for the company said: “Harlequin owns its Basildon offices and occupies the first floor of Unit 11, with all other space let to third parties.

“Harlequin is attempting to sell in order to discharge its liability and remove its responsibilities as a lessor.”

The move raises further questions over the financial situation of the company, which has received £400m from investors that they are currently unable to access.

Unregulated investment scheme Harlequin worked by taking deposits from mainly UK pension investors to build off-plan properties in the Caribbean, which could then be sold at a profit on completion or used to generate a rental income from holidaymakers. But out of a scheduled 6,000 properties, about 300 have been built.

… read the rest at the Professional Adviser


Filed under Barbados, Business & Banking, Consumer Issues, Crime & Law, Offshore Investments