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SFO charges Harlequin boss with fraud


The Serious Fraud Office has charged Harlequin Group chairman David Ames with fraud.

The SFO has been carrying out a joint investigation with Essex Police into collapsed property firm Harlequin since 2013.

It has announced today it is charging Ames with three counts of fraud by abuse of position. Ames has been summoned to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 22 March.

The SFO says the alleged activity took place between January 2010 and June 2015.

The Harlequin group of companies marketed and built overseas luxury property developments, with some clients investing in the developments through their Sipps. Harlequin Property, one of the firms under the umbrella Harlequin brand, went into administration in 2013.

The SFO’s investigation into Harlequin remains ongoing.

The organisation says for clients advised to invest in Harlequin via a Sipp, where their advice firms is no longer trading they may be eligible for redress from the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.



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There are 8 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Does this mean then, as IFA’s we must conduct the same due diligence as the SFO

    Obviously this will fall on the FSCS to offer redress and ultimately all of our clients (costs passed on) will pay.

    Can we have some guidance from the FCA on spotting a fraudulent company or indeed an individual without the need to follow them around, tap phones and hacking e-mails !

    Lets not forget Connaught ! I believe the regulator was told in no uncertain terms (whistle blown) about the problems.

    Then we have the Keydata issue, etc etc etc

    Really most of the people at Canary Wharf and Edinburgh need to be doing time, even if it is, just for sat on their fat arse’s twiddling their thumbs scoffing hobnobs and drinking tea !

  2. Christine Brightwell 17th February 2017 at 4:08 pm

    Twiddling thumbs whilst scoffing hobnobs (other biscuits brands are available) and drinking tea all at the same time sounds quite dextrous

  3. If it’s criminal and the prosecution succeeds then the redress should come from the public purse not FSCS!

  4. Not if advised by a regulated adviser Steve D……….
    Hence my tongue in cheek comment, Re due diligence and being shackled to a (very) poor and ineffective regulator !

  5. At what point is an investment recommendation to a client unsuitable? At the point the recommendation is made, or (if proven) when an investment fails due to fraud?

  6. The whole Harlequin scenario has been like watching a car crash take place in slow motion. Right from the start, I told anyone who cared to listen that this looked like a financial disaster waiting to happen and so it has turned out to be. Could it have been prevented? I don’t know the answer to that one but I am sure that more could have been done to try and prevent people losing their hard earned money.

  7. As a former investor in this car crash whereby the IFA received handsome rewards in the form of 15% commission while knowingly sending the poor investor to its ill fate, I am delighted by this news and waited nearly 5 years for its outcome. I just hope the SFO can catch up with the dodgy greedy IFAs involved who have made millions of pounds and not giving a toss about their clients.

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