Category Archives: Consumer Issues

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.

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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

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Gareth Fatchett of Regulatory Legal offers some advice to Harlequin victims

Harlequin Investor Update March 2015 from Regulatory Legal News on Vimeo.

Meanwhile at the Financial Services Compensation Scheme…

Financial advisers could be on the hook for hundreds of millions of pounds after the latest twist in the Harlequin saga in which the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) has written down the value of the investment to nil.

In a document from the FSCS seen by Professional Adviser, dated 12 February and marked ‘compensation calculation’, the body lists the value of a Harlequin Property investment as £0.00.

A FSCS spokesperson confirmed the decision.

“Where applicable we will disregard the residual value in respect of Harlequin investments,” they said.

The move opens the floodgates for the FSCS to pay the thousands of Harlequin investors compensation on the full amount they put into the unregulated scheme, up to a £50,000 limit.

With around £400m originally invested in Harlequin, the compensation bill is set to run into hundreds of millions of pounds, putting it on a par with other investment disasters like Keydata and Arch cru.

As in those cases, the bulk of the cost of the compensation is likely to be borne by investment advisers.

Read the entire article: Spectre of £400m compensation bill looms as FSCS values Harlequin at nil

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Harlequin victims hit with new lawsuit from Guardian SIPP

Abandoned Harlequin H Hotel is a testament to Barbados politicians' greed and incompetence.

Abandoned Harlequin H Hotel is a testament to Barbados politicians’ greed and incompetence.

Many “investors” in Dave Ames’ Harlequin ponzi scheme lost everything they had and more. Many of the gullible mortgaged their homes to “invest” in Harlequin, and relied upon the promises of Harlequin’s sales representatives. But the sales people knew that no legitimate investment could afford to pay the commissions that Harlequin was paying it’s representatives.

Now after losing everything, Harlequin victims are set to lose even more as Guardian SIPP is suing the investors for non-payment of the fees related to their self-invested personal pension.

Who is to blame for the mess?

Start with David Ames – but lined up with Ames should be the Government of Barbados, that allowed Harlequin companies to get away without oversight, accountability, annual filings and statements for the entire time. And our Government allowed Ames to acquire and start projects with zero oversight or consideration as to whether Ames had the means to finish those projects. As a result, the ‘H’ Hotel and Merricks projects look like bombed out disaster sites that are a testament to the greed and incompetence of the Bajan political class. Another Barbados property investment disaster that sends the wrong message to the world.

It’s fine to say that Ames and his crooked friends are responsible – but they couldn’t have done it without the wholesale purchase of willing politicians in Barbados and throughout the Caribbean.

Professional Adviser: Guardian sues Harlequin investors over SIPP fees

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Will the Harlequin Resorts debacle explode in 2015?

David Ames - Harlequin's Ponzi King

David Ames – Harlequin’s Ponzi King

The numbers tell us one giant truth: From the start Harlequin was set up as nothing less than a Ponzi scheme requiring a constant influx of new victims to keep everything going.

Consider these numbers…

– Total “deposits” by victims: US$800 million

– Percentage of “deposits” paid as salary and sales commissions: 50%

– Percentage of “deposits” used to pay interest to earlier “investors”: 22% (estimated, see below)

– Number of units sold: 9,114

– Number of units built: 230

It might be worth Ames and his merry band of supporters considering to remain silent throughout 2015.

To do so would reduce if not eliminate the anti-Harlequin responses no matter how articulate and factual they may be, given that the anti-Harlequin posts in the main are merely responses to the incessant nauseating, repulsive litany of lies emanating from Harlequin and their supporters in their never ending quest to justify “at best” the gross incompetence and abject failure by the Ames family and staff of Harlequin to operate their businesses in a proper manner.

The constant need to allay the blame for the failures of the Ames family and management at Harlequin at the door step of others demonstrates that the Ames family and management of Harlequin are in serious trouble.

And that summary is giving Ames and his cohorts far more benefit of the doubt than the facts say they deserve. The only reason I can think of that they haven’t been arrested as yet is that the Serious Fraud Office has been overwhelmed by the planned worldwide chaotic nature of the fraud through only god knows how many different companies, coupled with legal contracts bearing so much fine print, inter-jurisdictional references and available outs for the criminals.

The resorts will most probably never get built, not in the lifetime of many of the purchasers victims.      
Continue reading

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Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Business, Consumer Issues, Crime & Law, Economy, Offshore Investments, Real Estate

How government will use Barbados Water Authority smart meters to identify tax cheats

“This is a search on of your private life, showing your personal living patterns everyday – without a warrant. Your information going out to the Barbados Water Authority, the government, the police, the insurance company; to anyone who cuts a deal with the Barbados Water Authority now or in the future.”

Yes, my friends: that BWA smart meter is part of the government data-gathering and analysis system used to identify tax cheats (and for other purposes too.)”

Smart Meters a little too smart?

Back in 2011 Barbados Free Press published Smart Meters are Surveillance Devices – Data already used by police. Since that time there have been dozens of articles by major news outlets about privacy concerns with not only water and power smart meters, but also with the rise of the internet-connected home automation and camera systems.

While the use of internet motion detection / video-camera systems and online home appliances is a choice, the installation of smart meters is mandated by the government.  And what does the BWA and the government do with the data that they collect every second? They do anything they want with that data because there are no laws against it.

Who says BWA smart meters can identify tax cheats? The technology suppliers – that’s who…

Cowater International Inc. and Sogema Technologies Inc. are the two international corporations at the top end of the US$24.7 million dollar smart meter deal with the Barbados Water Authority. The Barbados government says the total cost of the project will be US$58 million dollars.

With subsidies from the Canadian Commercial Corporation, the BWA will install almost 100,000 smart water meters on this rock and the computers and software to monitor, administer and control the system.

Commercial clients are the priority, but eventually every home will have a smart meter too. Every one of those 98,800 household smart meters will supply a wealth of data that can be married up with other data to show patterns of behaviour, associations and reveal information that never would have been noticed before. BWA data will be consolidated with other private and government data sources.  Continue reading

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Three weeks since garbage collection in Callender Gardens

Typical roadside wildlife: The not so rare Genus "plasticus baggis trashisus"

Typical roadside wildlife: The not so rare Genus “plasticus baggis trashisus”

The Solid Waste Tax is in effect and I had hoped that what I am experiencing now would not occur. It has now been 3 weeks garbage in my area (Callender Gardens, Christ Church) has not been collected. However just a stone throw away garbage has been collected in Callender Court every week.  I cannot fathom the method which which they are operating.

I am wondering when  they will collect the garbage since the increase of trash is quite evident daily. Thanks.

(Name withheld by BFP editor)

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