At Keller Postman UK, we help people in England & Wales claim back what they are due following pension and investment mis-selling. One notable recent example is Harlequin Properties. By 2019, it was revealed that the FSCS had paid out a total of £125 million for Harlequin Property claims.
David Ames, the former chairman of Harlequin, was subsequently accused of cheating thousands of property investors out of millions of pounds. And on 22 August 2022, Ames was found guilty of fraud.
Harlequin Properties and mis-selling
Harlequin Properties announced plans to build thousands of luxurious hotel and rental properties around the Caribbean. It promised high returns for investors, but despite attracting millions in funds, very little was actually built. Later, the Saint Vincent and The Grenadines section (Harlequin SVG) entered insolvency proceedings.
One of the ways Harlequin raised funds was through SIPPs (self-invested pension schemes). Many investors were cold-called and advised by either a financial advisor or marketing company to transfer their pension into a SIPP and invest in the promised resort. Advisors often received a commission (sometimes up to 15%) for every client they signed up to the scheme. In some instances, these advisors used high-pressure sales techniques and investors were not told that this was a risky investment that wasn’t under the jurisdiction of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). As such, many of these SIPPs were mis-sold.
If you were mis-sold a Harlequin Properties investment (either through a SIPP, another unsuitable pension, or even direct), you could be entitled to compensation.
David Ames found guilty of fraud
In Summer 2022, a London court found Ames guilty of two counts of fraud by abuse of position in relation to the never-completed luxury Caribbean resort.
According to Lisa Osofsky, the director of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), “David Ames committed fraud on a huge scale, knowingly exposing thousands of UK investors to losses totalling hundreds of millions of pounds”.
An investigation by the SFO found that, by the time Harlequin went into administration, it had sold around 9,000 property units to investors, with fewer than 200 built. Furthermore, 99% of investors saw absolutely no return on their investment. In total, investors in Harlequin Properties lost almost £4 million from their pension pots between 2006 and 2015.
If you think you may have been mis-sold a financial product by Harlequin, contact us today. Our understanding and friendly team will help you receive the compensation you deserve.
We offer a free, no-obligation review of your situation, and no-win, no-fee claims.