Tag Archives: Harlequin Fraud

Finding Dave Ames’ hidden assets: in Thailand!

Thailand Harlequin Resort Ames

Thailand asset hunt helps secure Asset Freezing Court Order against Dave Ames

Did Richard Haughton hide cash for David Ames?

Primary amongst the big questions asked by fleeced Harlequin investors is “Where did all that money go?”

Thailand-based investigative journalist Andrew Drummond believes he might have found the trail to some of the missing assets – in Thailand companies associated with Richard Haughton, a friend and business partner of David Ames.

How likely is it that when Harlequin took some £500 million in cash that the silver-tongued Ames didn’t squirrel some of that away for himself? Not likely, most folks would say – and Thailand looks good for some of it.  Continue reading

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

What is happening with Harlequin – Dave Ames? Class… discuss!

Harlequin Resort

“We are urging every investor to register in the HMSSE administration.”

Gareth Fatchett, Regulatory Legal Solicitors (Forms attached at bottom)

With over 10,000 discussion comments on Barbados Free Press, Harlequin “investors” (and we use the word somewhat tongue-in-cheek) have lots to say and discuss.

Here’s the latest we have from Gareth Fatchett of Regulatory Legal Solicitors – a memo sent out on May 17, 2013.

Perhaps our readers can add what’s happened since…

From: Regulatory Legal Solicitors [mailto:mail@harlequininvestorgroup.co.uk]
Sent: 17 May 2013 17:09
To: Gareth Fatchett
Subject: 17th May 2013 – HIG UPDATE

At outset, HIG are more than prepared to continue to engage with Harlequin and will seek to understand and support a rescue plan where this is feasible notwithstanding the protective steps we are suggesting below. ie. our objective is to pursue different strategies which aim to achieve the best outcome for investors regardless of the course adopted. Simply sitting back while matters worsen is not a strategy HIG are prepared to adopt.

HIG members are all investors in Harlequin and would like nothing more than it to work. However, we have to be realistic. It is not going to work in the current format. It needs a major overhaul to give us any chance of surviving. Currently, the whole process is dictated by a handful of people at the Harlequin core. Frankly, that does not work for investors who need to understand the actual position.

The seriousness of the situation has increased with a High Court Judge making an order against Mr & Mrs Ames personally. Of course, Mr & Mrs Ames are able to challenge the order and seek to have it revoked. What is concerning for HIG is that the order was granted in the first place.

We are trying to keep an open mind, but the slippage of timetables, non payment of creditors and the issuing and granting of the injunction does little to reassure us. Continue reading

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Filed under Barbados, Consumer Issues, Crime & Law

Lawyer’s urgent advice to Harlequin investors: “Fast deteriorating situation… No time to lose… safeguard your money” before professional indemnity insurance coverage stops!

“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

Harlequin Resort

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 – Continue reading

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BBC bribery allegations a distraction in the Harlequin scandal

BBC Harlequin

Let’s assume that the BBC reporter did try to bribe a Harlequin employee… SO WHAT?

A BBC Panorama staffer has been sacked after Harlequin alleged that the BBC employee approached a Harlequin employee with bribes in return for information. BBC is reporting the staffer to the police so it looks like there might be something to the allegations… or maybe not. Ya never know the truth of these things really until they are over and even then you wonder.

But let’s say that the BBC staffer did exactly what is alleged… offered a job to Harlequin’s security chief in exchange for information. Maybe that is against the law, maybe not… but it doesn’t have a damn thing to do with what happened in the last six years with Harlequin.

Trust me on this folks… Harlequin will make the big noise about this, and make the most of it…

… but it doesn’t change a damned thing about Harlequin taking money and promising to build thousands of homes and building practically nothing.

Don’t be too concerned about this BBC happening. Keep your eye focused on the main event: Where is the money, where are the vacation homes?

BBC Panorama producer resigns after developer’s ‘bribery’ allegation

Harlequin says it will to go to the police over claim attempt was made to bribe security consultant to disclose information.

The producer at the centre of Panorama bribery allegations has left the BBC as it emerged that Harlequin, the luxury Caribbean property developer that lodged the complaint with the corporation, is to take its grievance to the police. Continue reading

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Filed under Barbados, Freedom Of The Press, Offshore Investments

Harlequin Properties stunner! “No agent confirmed Harlequin’s land holdings or company information” SIPP-Pension investors advised to act immediately

Harlequin Resort

“…the due diligence undertaken was the brochures, sale presentations and (free) trips to St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”

“SIPP Investors / Pension Transfers would be foolhardy to wait as Professional Indemnity Insurance stops immediately upon an insolvency procedure.”

Regulatory Legal Solicitors special report posted on Barbados Free Press

Harlequin investors are sure to be flabbergasted by today’s posting at Barbados Free Press by UK law firm Regulatory Legal Solicitors and their leading lawyer Gareth Fatchett. Mr. Fatchett was in the news lately as he was successful in achieving some kind of settlement for a handful of Harlequin victims.

Today’s Regulatory Legal Solicitors posting alleges that none of the agents advising folks to invest in Harlequin took the trouble to confirm that Harlequin actually held the land it was selling. No sales agent went to the trouble of obtaining company information about Harlequin’s Caribbean operations. And if you want to talk about “Due Diligence”, the agents confined their research to brochures, Harlequin sales presentations and (presumably free) trips to St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Throw in free drinks and a few “hostesses” and Bob’s your uncle… the agents were ready to sell Harlequin and at a tempting 30% commission at that. (Not that we’ve heard of Harlequin doing the “hostesses” thing, but this is the Caribbean ya know!)

Master Agent suspends Harlequin sales

The master agent has apparently stopped selling Harlequin so we’ll have more on that in a bit. That sounds important to us because once the sales stop, how can Harlequin sustain current operations even if they scale back? We’re not even talking about building and new construction, just keeping the place open. There’s no staff worth talking about at the Barbados operations, and that is worth thinking about. Was the master agent “TailorMade” ? Can someone advise? See IFA Online’s article Harlequin distributor pulls plug on new investment.

Mr. Fatchett advises SIPP Investors and Pension Transfers to take action immediately because if Harlequin goes insolvent, that is the the end of Professional Indemnity Insurance. Complain now and if it all goes for a fall, the agents’ insurance might cover something. Wait… and, well, the lawyer doesn’t say other than the agents’ indemnity insurance ends but you can read between the lines for yourself. The post also provides advice for other classes of Harlequin investors, so have a read and make up your own mind, folks!

Discussion in the Comments Section

We’re going to make this post the current place at BFP to discuss the Harlequin situation, so join in and please remember to be respectful to each other and also watch the language, okay?

To keep all current discussion in one place, we’re also going to close off comments on previous articles and direct people here. That will take some time so please be patient.

Marcus @ BFP

As posted at Barbados Free Press by Regulatory Legal Solicitors…

Following the court hearing last Thursday, we are now in a position where we understand the full extent of the land holdings and build costs for the various Harlequin projects.

The court hearing last week resulted in a settlement for our clients. The terms of which are confidential.

A few things are very clear :-

1. No agent went to the trouble of obtaining confirmation as to the land position.
2. No agent went to the trouble of obtaining Caribbean company information.
3. Some of the SIPP providers in the main relied on an external due diligence process in 2010 & 2011. We have confirmation

We have both the land acquisition schedule and an affidavit from the new Harlequin accountant setting out the build costs etc. We are currently running the maths to work out.

HMSSE turnover 2006 – 2011
-less land acquisition costs
-less commissions
-less building costs
-less overheads

This should give us an indication of the actual position of the group. There is no evidence of external investors (into the equity of the business) and no evidence of any development finance.

Once again we find it remarkable that agents / IFA’s / SIPP’s have not seen this. These are accounting basics.   Continue reading

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Serious Fraud Office asked to investigate Harlequin – “3,000 Britons fall victim”

Harlequin Pension Fraud

(click photo for full size)

Mail on Sunday visits Merricks Beach Resort in Barbados “Rubbish-strewn field”

“We have been left completely in the dark and fear we’ve lost everything. they haven’t even started building the resort yet.”

Merricks buyer Mrs. Gupta in the Daily Mail article 3,000 Britons fall victim to £250million fantasy villa fiasco

The Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday are publishing a series of investigative news articles about David Ames and the Harlequin Property scandal that saw thousands of people ‘invest’ in what is so obviously a Ponzi pyramid scheme that relies upon finding new ‘investors’ to pay sums promised to earlier ‘investors’.

Journalist Russell Myers and his colleagues Martin Delgado and Sharon Churcher published the first piece in the series on Saturday, February 23, 2013.

Online reports from investors here at Barbados Free Press and elsewhere recently revealed that Harlequin is behind in interest payments to some investors who took out mortgages and loans to fund their Harlequin purchases. Harlequin was supposed to pay the interest to the purchasers’ financial institutions as part of the agreement with the ‘investors’ but it looks like the house of cards is getting very shaky indeed.

The role of the governments of Barbados and other Caribbean nations caught up in the Harlequin scandal is also drawing international attention and must reflect badly upon the involved Caribbean governments and nations.

Barbados and the other nations failed to protect foreign investors and as a result the Harlequin fiasco will taint the region’s other resort and retirement projects for many years. Barbados Free Press has been extensively covering this story because we believe our leaders made very poor decisions about Ames and Harlequin in an environment where Barbados lacks Integrity Legislation, Conflicts of Interest standards and Freedom of Information laws. The lack of accountability for elected and appoint public officials likely played a large role in how Barbados politicians welcomed David Ames and his ‘political donations’…

“Our government gave Ames and Harlequin the benefit of our country’s reputation – and when the Harlequin house of cards falls, it will be the reputation of Barbados that is harmed the most.

Something for our ‘leaders’ to think about the next time that some offshore investor property developer arrives bearing gifts – because no doubt Mr. Ames spread some gifts around freely.”

… from the January 26, 2013 BFP story How Harlequin damaged Barbados reputation

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