The director of a company that lost consumers £13.3m through alternative investment scams it operated has been disqualified for 15 years by the High Court.
Industry RE director Ian Hamilton ran scams including selling interests in land in Dominica that the company never owned, and money circulation schemes.
Hamilton’s disqualification from being a company director follows an investigation by a specialist team at the Insolvency Service.
The investigation found that Industry RE cold-called members of the public to sell the alternative investments.
In the first scheme, investors believed they were buying carbon credits which Industry said it would repurchase within 12 months for 30 per cent more than the investors had paid and then on-sell them to a connected company in Dubai.
Industry paid more than £8.6m to customers, including what it claimed were investment returns. However, the investigation found that Industry had not made any of the investments and was paying investors using deposits of other, more recent, investors.
Investors in the scheme lost more than £5.7m.
In another, smaller, money circulation scheme, investors paid Industry for “solar bonds” that were to pay a return of 10 per cent each year for five years and then investors would get their capital back.
However, the company did not invest or receive profits so it again paid investors from the deposits of newer investors.
Meanwhile, investors in the Dominican land scheme paid £25,000 for an interest in a supposed eco resort and were promised an 80 per cent return in two years.
Industry received £7.6m from investors but did not tell them it had not acquired the land where the resort was meant to be built. None of the investors have received a return.
Documents sent by the company to customers in 2012 and 2013 said Independent had moved to Dubai which it used as a reason for not repaying clients.
Public interest unit official receiver at the Insolvency Service Tony Hanon says: “The company persuaded members of the public to part with substantial sums by falsely promising investors extremely high rates of return. In reality, the scheme operated only for the benefit of those running the company, principally the director, Ian Hamilton.”