Harlequin Boss Allegedly Cheated Investors Out Of £390m

Harlequin Property boss David Ames faces three fraud charges involving £390 million allegedly lost by investors in the Caribbean resort business.

His trial is booked at Southwark Crown Court for September 2018 and is expected to last up to 14 weeks.

The charges against Ames, 65, of Wickford, Essex, relate to fraud by abuse of position.

The first claims dishonesty from 2010 that led to an alleged loss of an estimated £225 million by investors.

The second is dated from 2011 onwards and again claims dishonesty leading to alleged investment losses of £130 million.

Celebrity-backed scheme

These charges involve Harlequin Management Services (South East) Ltd, of Honywood Road, Basildon, Essex, which is being wound up.

The final charge concerns an offshore company, Harlequin Hotels and Resorts (Cayman) Ltd, and alleges dishonesty from 2012 leading to alleged losses to investors of £35 million.

The charges follow a lengthy investigation by Essex Police and the Serious Fraud Office.

Several celebrities publicly endorsed investing in Harlequin resorts.

Former Wimbledon champion Pat Cash was booked as a tennis coach, while TV soccer pundit and former Republic of Ireland World Cup star Andy Townsend was pictured shaking hands with Ames in promotional videos.

None of the celebrities are accused of any alleged wrongdoing.

Ames denies wrongdoing

The Buccament Bay resort in St Vincent and The Grenadines was the Harlequin flagship investment. The resort is closed with a web site message stating a planned reopening is due for spring 2017.

Earlier this year, Ames issued a statement about the fraud allegations.

“I maintain that I am innocent of any wrongdoing and am confident in the knowledge that I have always sought and taken the advice of top accountants and solicitors for all areas of the business,” he said.

To date, the Financial Services Compensation Scheme has paid out £100 million to more than 2,100 investors in relation to the advice they were given about Harlequin.

More than 6,000 investors are thought to have ploughed over £400 million into the scheme expecting an annual 10% a year return.

Most of the investments were made after taking SIPP pension advice from financial advisers who have since gone to the wall.

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