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Cable in court bid to shut land banking firms

Authorities are continuing their crackdown on land banking firms as the Government calls for the closure of six land banking companies through the High Court.Business Secretary Vince Cable has presented petitions in the High Court to wind up six land banking companies.

The six firms are Stowford Place Investments, ASA Global Investments, Prinston Estates, Alpha Capital Investments (London), Greenacre Global Partners and Vinci Trading.

The Insolvency Service carries out enquiries on behalf of Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. The Insolvency Service says: “The petitions to wind up the companies were presented following confidential enquiries carried by the Company Investigations team, which is part of the Insolvency Service.”

The petitions were presented on May 19. An official receiver, a civil servant of the Insolvency Service which acts to protect the assets of the companies pending the outcome of the petitions, was appointed as provisional liquidator of the companies on May 26. The petitions will be heard on June 29.

Last month, it emerged the FSA is pursuing six firms through the High Court over land bank sales which it suspects are unlikely to be granted planning permission. The total investor losses are estimated to be £45m.

Money Marketing understands the latest action brought by BIS does not relate to the same six firms that the FSA is pursuing, although the regulator is thought to be aware of those firms subject to the winding up petitions.

The FSA does not regulate the sale of land but can act where firms are operating unauthorised collective investment schemes. Where a firm offers not only plots of land for sale but also offers to arrange planning permission and manage the assets, this is likely to be classed as a collective investment scheme.

The regulator is currently monitoring the activities of 20 land banking firms.

FSA head of unauthorised business Jonathan Phelan says: “We ask anybody who has dealt with a land bank to contact us and tell us about their experience. The information we get from them can help us protect hundreds, if not thousands, of potential victims in the future.”

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