Tag Archives: Harlequin Merricks Resort

How many Harlequin companies did Dave Ames register in Barbados?

Harlequin Resort

Why so many Harlequin companies?

It happened like this… we were sitting around last Friday discussing how David Ames and his Ponzi partners have more companies than anybody knows about. Marketing done by this company, land held by that company, building done by another company supplied by another company delivering materials.

It all collapsed and left eyesores and abandoned building sites that are a blight upon Barbados and other nations.

And then somebody asked if anyone had run the word “Harlequin” at the Barbados Corporate Affairs and Intellectual Property Office.

Everybody looked at each other with that “aren’t we a bunch of idiots?” look. Nope, nobody had done it.

So we fired up the computer, logged into Anonymouse.org to cover our asses, and did the deed.

Here they are, folks… All the Barbados-registered companies with the word “Harlequin” in their name…

HARLEQUINS
POLLY HARLEQUIN PRODUCTIONS
HARLEQUIN DEVELOPMENTS
HARLEQUIN (BARBADOS) PROPERTY MANAGEMENT LIMITED
HARLEQUIN BOUTIQUE HOTEL LIMITED
HARLEQUIN (BARBADOS) PROPERTY LIMITED
HARLEQUIN LUXURY HOTEL LIMITED
HARLEQUIN BOUTIQUE HOTEL MANAGEMENT LIMITED
HARLEQUIN LUXURY HOTEL MANAGEMENT LIMITED
HARLEQUIN PROPERTY (SVG) LIMITED

Truly, the government looked the other way on all of this. How many of these companies filed proper reports? You know how it is here on this rock… a political donation takes care of having to worry about filing the paperwork for companies. No worries about annual reports if you make a big donation to the ruling party.

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

Harlequin’s Merricks Resort “a rotting garbage dump – a liability not an asset”

Merricks Barbados Harlequin Bankruptcy 14Merricks Barbados Harlequin Bankruptcy 12

Why didn’t Barbados obtain completion guarantees backed with performance deposits and bonds?

Our political class, along with Harlequin and other developers, left Bajans holding the bag!

by Old Cutter

What a mess we have with abandoned and “on hold” construction sites and failed projects throughout this country. There is a reason for this and it is not “economic slowdowns” or “unforeseen circumstances”.

“We have these numerous failed project disasters littering our coasts because our DLP and BLP governments allowed unfettered development of our beautiful island by almost anyone that showed up.”

Politicians’ offshore accounts are fat and happy

Our elected representatives stuffed bags of cash into offshore accounts of their “consulting” companies but never acted to protect Barbados from shaky developers.

Our political class never imposed standard contract conditions like performance guarantees and deposits. The big developers hired DLP and BLP friends and family as ‘consultants’ in exchange for building permissions.

“Everybody knows how this place works, and why the political class never voted for Integrity Legislation or assets declarations since Bajan independence almost 50 years ago.”

Harlequin Resorts is just one more failed developer, but they fell in a big way and are worth looking at closely…

As the broader Harlequin Resorts debacle carries on in the courts we see Harlequin suing accountants Wilkins Kennedy and WK countering with accusations of their own, and many other court battles in various stages.

Somewhere in all of that there is a book figure for the value of Harlequin’s assets, including the abandoned Merricks Resort site in Barbados.

Whatever that book figure is for Merricks Resort, a visit to the abandoned construction site reveals a rotting garbage dump that is undoubtedly far less of an asset due to the demolition and environmental cleanup that would be necessary prior to any new activity. Barbados Free Press covered this story a year and a half ago, and the deterioration is easy to see when we compare the photos then and now. Continue reading

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Filed under Barbados, Corruption, Economy, Offshore Investments, Political Corruption, Politics & Corruption

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. Continue reading

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

More Questions for former Harlequin associate David Campion

David Campion Harlequin Barbados 2

With the collapse of so many large scale, foreign-owned projects in Barbados in the last few years, Bajans are understandably cynical about any new projects. And when a former Harlequin employee sets up shop, some folks naturally want to ask how much they knew about Harlequin and when they knew it.

Back on June 22, 2013 BFP published an article that asked tough questions of David Campion and his Argo Development Studio. We received no word from Mr. Campion then or since.

Now another reader asks more questions that seem most reasonable to us and are what ordinary Bajans want to know about Mr. Campion and all developers – especially from over and away.

If Mr. Campion desires to comment or reply, we will print his unedited response right here and give him full coverage. We and all Barbadians would like to hear his side of the story.

Regarding David Campion, some questions …

by BFP reader Just give me a straight answer

After the Harlequin fiasco:

  • Is David Campion living and working in Barbados based on documentation as an ongoing employee of the non-operating Harlequin (of Merricks) fame?
  • If not, has he legal status in Barbados?
  • Has he applied for or is he in possession of a work permit?
  • Is Argo (his “company”) actually registered as a company?
  • Is Argo VAT registered?
  • What are his professional qualifications?
  • Regarding the claims of Argo’s expertise made on the Argo website, does he have a core building industry professional qualification? such as Surveyor or Engineer?
  • Is there any other person here working for him (the site claims 4 directly employed persons) who is professionally qualified and is registered and have they paid their yearly fees?
  • If Mr. Campion is properly qualified, is he a member of one of the professional organisations here in Barbados?
  • If he has a professional qualification, is he on the governments register of qualified professional persons …and has he paid the statutory fee for 2013/2014?
  • Has Argo direct or indirect ownership in “Tourism Consultants International”, who with Argo have recently been appointed by the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry – BCCI – to carry out surveys of Bridgetown businesses as part of their “Revitalization of Bridgetown Initiative”?
  • If he is in the process of submitting Town and Country Planning applications to the Town Planning Department, and is he aware that certain qualifications have to be proven (for submitting proposals of more than domestic or residential size) before the Town Planning Department will accept the application?

BFP thanks The Nation for the source photo. Used with permission!

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Filed under Barbados, Consumer Issues, Economy

Does Harlequin’s The Merricks have “full planning permission” or not? We have some doubts…

Merricks-Barbados-Bankrupt

Dave Ames says Merricks has “full planning permission” …

“Last month, Harlequin’s The Merricks Resort project in Barbados was finally granted full planning permission after years of protracted studies and work. It was initially anticipated that this process would be much quicker, but Harlequin has always kept purchasers updated with progress.”

Financial Times Adviser, Beleaguered Harlequin owed £30m by property buyers April 24, 2013

“Harlequin is delighted to announce that last week it received full planning permission for The Merricks Resort project in Barbados. There are normal conditions attached to the permission and our team is now working to ensure we have full compliance to allow us to commence works.”

Financial Times Adviser, Harlequin halts construction amid £9m legal battle April 9, 2013

BFP’s old friend St. George’s Dragon checked personally at the Planning Office and is not so sure…

Mr Ames announced at the investor meetings that Harlequin had received full planning for Merricks. I admit that I was skeptical about this so I thought I would drop into the Barbados Town & Country Planning Office this afternoon to check. It is possible for members of the public to check applications. The information you can see is limited, though. Continue reading

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Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Real Estate

Regulatory Legal met with David Ames & Harlequin – What now?

Harlequin Resort

“The Harlequin Investor Group met with David Ames in the afternoon of the 22nd April 2013.

Date: Mon, 22 Apr 2013 22:06:21 +0000
From: mail@harlequininvestorgroup.co.uk
Subject: Harlequin Investor Group – Meeting with David Ames – 22nd April 2013

Network Email

All,

The Harlequin Investor Group met with David Ames in the afternoon of the 22nd April 2013.

•3 investors and 2 Directors from Regulatory Legal met with David Ames.

The meeting was conducted cordially and respectfully as building a rapport in these difficult times is clearly key.

1.There is no doubt in the minds of those attending on behalf of investors that Harlequin is cash starved and requires new investment.
2.The lack of cash in the business is a key issue as without liquidity the business will continue to struggle.
3.The business has a significant number of non-completed contracts, many of which have completion dates which are overdue. In simple terms, the various companies are obligated to repay investors their money back plus 10%. The “repayment overhang”.
4.The business needs to source new monies. This is going to come from either

(a) Investment into the equity of the business

(b) Completions on properties (eg the balancing 70%)

(c) New investor monies

We feel (a) & (b) are the best way forward. The HIG see (c) as unlikely in the present situation. Continue reading

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Harlequin Investors must not walk away with a false sense of security

Gareth Fatchett of Regulatory Legal Solicitors

Gareth Fatchett of Regulatory Legal Solicitors

Risk Warning, a voice for distressed investors in the UK, cautiously welcomes Harlequin Property’s meetings with investors and IFAs, scheduled for next week in both Manchester and Basildon. It hopes that investors who have, thus far, met with stony silence from Harlequin will get the answers they have been seeking at these meetings.

Set up by Regulatory Legal Solicitors, Risk Warning recently met with investors throughout the country to help them advance their case with Harlequin.  The response at these meetings was overwhelmingly in favour of opening up a constructive dialogue with Harlequin. Gareth Fatchett from Risk Warning says, “The lack of information from Harlequin has been disconcerting for many of the investors we have been speaking to this month. It is important that Harlequin engages with its investors, many of whom are very concerned about the safety of their property investments in the Caribbean.”

While acknowledging that Harlequin’s efforts to have a dialogue with its investors signals a necessary step in the right direction, Risk Warning urges that investors must arm themselves with the right questions to ensure that they get a full picture of the current status. Mr Fatchett continues, “Given the amount of money invested and the state of uncertainty over a long period of time coupled with some of the recent news coverage on Harlequin, there are many detailed questions to which investors should be demanding answers. It is important that investors do not leave these meetings with a false sense of security.”

Risk Warning, which is acting for a number of Harlequin investors, has compiled a comprehensive list of over 30 questions for Harlequin, which it is seeking to raise with Harlequin next week. These questions demand answers on a number of critical issues such as:

  • how much of investors’ money has been spent on Caribbean resorts being developed by Harlequin
  • what has actually been built but is not yet completed
  • what the cost to finish each development will be
  • what the value of finance payments in arrears is
  • when the Caribbean accounts will be brought up to date

“Hundreds of investors believed in Harlequin’s marketing and invested millions of pounds in Harlequin properties but now find themselves in the calamitous position of not knowing the outcome of their investments.

We call on Harlequin to listen to its investors carefully and to tell them the plain truth about where they stand regarding the current status of their investments and, equally importantly, what the future holds. Anything short of a honest discussion will be unacceptable. We sincerely hope that investors will have productive discussions with Harlequin.”

Gareth Fatchett, Risk Warning

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

Harlequin’s Merricks Resort: Easter Sunday March 31, 2013

Harlequin Merricks Barbados 1

Click photos for full size

Merricks Barbados 7Harlequin Merricks Barbados Merricks Barbados 8 Merricks BarbadosHarlequin Merricks Barbados 2 Harlequin Merricks Barbados 3 Harlequin Merricks Barbados 4

 

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BDO quits as Harlequin Property auditors – says Harlequin directors failed to provide information to BDO

“We have not been given significant information by the directors to enable us to ascertain whether or not appropriate progress has been made.”

… statement by BDO Accountants upon resigning as Harlequin Property’s auditors.

Harlequin Property Duck

Harlequin Property walks like duck

What’s that saying about a shoe fits? Or is pig with lipstick? Or if it walks like a duck with shoes and lipstick?

I kind of forget, but I’ll bet there are many old sayings that apply right now – like fools and money…

Harlequin Property auditor quits

Harlequin Property, the UK-based overseas property sales agent that is at the centre of a Serious Fraud Office (SFO) investigation, has lost its second auditor in under three years.

Accountants BDO has filed a public resignation at Companies House saying it can no longer act as auditor for Harlequin Property, according to the Brentwood Weekly News.

The firm is being investigated by the fraud office and Essex Police following complaints from investors over delays. It has sold more than 6,000 off-plan holiday properties across six Caribbean resorts, taking in more than £300m, but so far built around 300. Continue reading

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Harlequin’s The Merricks Resort as it really is right now

Harlequin Merricks 21

The Merricks, Barbados – Thursday, March 7, 2013

(click all photos for larger versions)

Dear Barbados Free Press

While sight seeing and using Barbados Holiday Map provided to us tourists as a guide, we went looking for the “Photo Opportunity” shown on the map at Palmetto Bay. As we looked for Palmetto Bay, we came across the Merricks sign; so being a periodic reader of BFP I decided to proceed to see what Photo Opportunities we could find.

The attached pics were just taken Thursday March 7, 2013.  They look strangely similar to those previously published on BFP in August 2012! What has been done in the past year?

There were two workers (?)  on the site.  An old guy who was dismantling a temporary storage area, and a young kid who was wandering around and sitting around. Thought you might want save the time and gas expense to go out to the Merricks site.

Harlequin’s promotional claims that “The Merricks Resort is situated on the stunning Atlantic coast in the south east of Barbados; and the resort has been designed to take advantage of the stunning cliff top position which affords spectacular vistas across the Atlantic Ocean.” are true. I must have missed it but I saw no beach.

“Just Taken” moniker reflects that the photos attached were just taken a couple of days ago.  Fortunately I have not been taken in by the Harlequin Scheme.

Just Taken

Harlequin Merricks 24.Harlequin Merricks 23.Harlequin Merricks 22.Harlequin Merricks 19Harlequin Merricks 32

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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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