Expat investors hit hard as Harlequin Properties calls in receivers

Published:  29 Apr at 6 PM
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After several months of uncertainty and a class action or two, beleaguered Harlequin Properties has thrown in the towel and gone into receivership.

After failing to keep up with regular contracted payments to their investors and an ongoing investigation by the UK’s Serious Fraud Office and Essex Police, the action by the Essex-based overseas property sales company has now put its investors in an even worse position. An interim moratorium is now in place freezing all legal action against it at the present time.

Hundreds of investors who bought into the proposed luxury villas and holiday resort developments to the tune of some £200 million were informed by their lawyers, Regulatory Legal, that their position is now even more serious. Harlequin’s investor agreement terms provide for monthly payments of the interest on the remortaging of investors’ homes to purchase a Harlequin Caribbean property.

Financial advisors hungry for high commissions had marketed the Harlequin plan as a SIPPS, causing warnings to be issued by the FSA and a request by the authority that FAs disclose details of members’ Harlequin holdings. Harlequin’s CEO David Ames is blaming the company’s collapse on negative publicity.

With the brunt of the investigation centering on Harlequin’s mostly as yet non-existent Caribbean properties, it’s not clear how investors in Harlequin’s properties in Pattaya, Thailand may be affected. The properties were taken over by a Pattaya expat businessman, Richard Haughton, who later sold them to Kasikorn Bank, although many had already been purchased by expats who are now involved in court battles to repossess their homes.
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