Category Archives: Offshore Investments

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

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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

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Banking executive from CIBC’s FirstCaribbean International Bank carried FIFA bribe!

Why would a CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank executive travel from the Bahamas to New York to personally pick up a US$250,000 cheque?

Why not just wire the funds? Why not send the cheque via courier?

The answer appears to be that the US$250,000 was being money-laundered by one of FIFA’s top officials, Chuck Blazer. After picking up the cheque in New York, the banking executive returned to the Bahamas and deposited the cheque into Blazer’s personal offshore account.

I didn’t really catch onto this at first. I thought it was a situation where the CIBC had been unknowningly duped or had a client misuse the bank. But that isn’t what happened according to the articles in the press – the CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank was directly and knowingly involved in money-laundering.

Surprised? You shouldn’t be. Anyone who has seen the award-winning documentary about the 2008 meltdown – Inside Job – knows that the banks are rotten to the core, and in conjunction with bribed elected and appointed officials ensure that the motto of the inside crowd remains “Profits are private. Losses are public.”

Closer to home just look at Clico and the Barbados DLP government.

But for you and me though, just miss a mortgage payment or don’t pay taxes and see what happens. Wuhloss!

FIFA scandal exacerbates Canadian banks’ Caribbean troubles

An eyebrow-raising disclosure in the U.S. indictment of FIFA officials is that a representative of a Caribbean bank made it easy for one allegedly illegal transaction to be done by flying to New York to personally collect a check and then returned to deposit it in an account in the Bahamas.

This unusual courier service, which reduced the electronic trail on a $250,000 payment to former FIFA official Chuck Blazer in May 2011, was provided by an unnamed officer of Barbados-based CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank, the indictment shows. CIBC FirstCaribbean is a subsidiary of Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Canada’s fifth-largest bank.

That cheque, U.S. prosecutors allege, was part of a $10 million bribe paid in return for the votes of then FIFA vice president Jack Warner, Blazer and another FIFA official in support of South Africa being granted the rights to host the 2010 World Cup.   Continue reading

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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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Sales persons are liable for Harlequin pension losses!

Harlequin Resort

Oh boy!

“Financial advisers who recommended clients switch their pensions into self-invested schemes heavily exposed to investments being marketed by embattled overseas property group Harlequin are legally liable for losses, the Financial Services Compensation Scheme confirmed…”

… from the Financial Times article Advisers are liable for Harlequin pension transfer losses

Yup…

Do them. Do them all. Lead them away in handcuffs and beat them on the way to jail.

Lives ruined. Pensions devoured.

Barbados politicians played a pivotal role as enablers for David Ames and his gang. Do them all.

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Filed under Barbados, Corruption, Crime & Law, Offshore Investments, Political Corruption, Politics & Corruption, Real Estate