Harlequin Property Group has won a legal battle to stay in business after a court threw out a bid by a group of investors to freeze the firm’s assets.
Six investors were behind a challenge in London’s High Court to have £500,000 they had invested in Harlequin’s Buccament Bay Resort, Barbados, returned.
Though the court refused the group’s application, the matter was apparently settled out of court with the settlement terms remaining undisclosed.
However, some press reports claimed that Harlequin had agreed to repay the investors all their money.
Harlequin issued a statement saying the company was “pleased that the court refused to grant the application after a fully-contested hearing”.
“This application followed days of media speculation inferring that Harlequin Property and Buccament Bay Resort may have to stop trading.
“Harlequin denies any wrongdoing and looks forward to clearing its name in relation to the other allegations that are currently being unfairly referred to in the press,” said a spokesman for the firm.
The company has also confirmed that the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) is investigating allegations raised in a national newspaper.
The SFO has created an online questionnaire for investors to complete about their investments in the firm and who introduced them.
The spokesman for Harlequin said they are willing to meet with the SFO but could see no reason for their interest.
Harlequin has been frequently in the headlines recently over the sale of off-plan luxury resort properties, mainly in the Caribbean.
In January, the Financial Services Authority (FSA) issued an alert on Basildon-based Harlequin warning financial advisors about investing client money in the firm, since the company is not a regulated investment manager and is outside the official financial compensation scheme.
A few weeks later, the FSA contacted financial advisors again, particularly those providing self-invested personal pensions (SIPPs), telling them to reveal which clients had invested in the firm.
Investors have become increasingly concerned in recent months because Harlequin had issues meeting payments under agreements with them.
Under of the agreement, Harlequin will meet the interest on the borrowings of investors who have re-mortgaged homes or property to invest in Harlequin schemes in the Caribbean.
However, Harlequin missed making those payments for two consecutive months. This worried investors since Harlequin pays interest on their borrowings until the off-plan property is completed.