Harlequin Properties settle substantial sums out of court

Published:  15 Mar at 6 PM
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The FSA unregulated overseas property sales agent firm being investigated by the Serious fraud squad has agreed a substantial out of court settlement to end a class action by disgruntled investors.

Thousands of investors are believed to have put money into the scheme, which involved a 30 per cent deposit on off-plan luxury properties in developments in St Lucia, Barbados, St Vincent and the Dominican Republic. The remaining 70 per cent of the purchase price was invested in a SIPPs (self-investing pension plan) scheme which breached FSA rulings of a 50 per cent maximum.

The class action was brought after Harlequin had difficulties in paying its investors monthly interest amounts as agreed, with lawyers for the group requesting that the Essex company’s assets be frozen. The court refused the application, after which a substantial but undisclosed amount of money was agreed by the six plaintiffs as an out of court settlement.

After an alert sent out to UK financial advisors by the FSA, the Serious Fraud Squad and Essex police opened a joint investigation, with the SFS asking investors to provide information about their transactions via an online questionnaire. Investors are also being asked to give the names of the FAs who introduced them to the company and SIPPs providers are being asked for details of clients’ holdings in the scheme.

A spokesperson from Harlequin, clearly irritated by recent media reports, stated that the company denies any wrongdoing and it intending to complete all its developments. It’s unclear, however, whether the equally disenchanted Harlequin Thailand clients in Pattaya will receive any assistance.

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