Six directors have been disqualified after taking £13m from 300 investors in a land banking scam.
An investigation by the Insolvency Service found that two sales agents sold land to consumers using misleading marketing materials, which led them to believe the land would obtain planning permissions and increase in value. In reality, there was no likelihood of this happening.
Customers purchased the plots of greenbelt land from the sales agents for anything between £7,500 and £20,000 per plot. The supply companies had purchased the same land for at little as £180 per plot.
Sales agent Century Property Group took £12m from customers. Its director Stephen Wheeler has been disqualified from managing or controlling a company for 14 years.
Dakota Partners, another sales agent, received £1.2m from customers. Two of its directors, Christopher Gill and Imran Rasool, have been disqualified for 14 years and 11 years respectively.
Action has also been taken against the companies which sourced and supplied the land to the sales agents: Raincode, MRT Land Holdings and its successor Boldcare.
Boldcare and Raincode director Carl Ballard has been disqualified for 14 years, MRT Land Holdings and Boldcare director Mark Tull has been disqualified for 14 years, and MRT Land Holdings director Michael Tull has been disqualified for seven years.
Insolvency Service public interest unit senior examiner Matthew Stone says: “In over seven years of investigating land banking scams, I have not seen a single piece of land that has been sold go on to obtain planning permission. Every single customer has lost their money in what was a horrendous investment.
“In these cases, the Insolvency Service took action not only against the sales agents, which spend a small fortune in attempting to come across as legitimate City-based “commodity” brokers, but also their suppliers who caused the sales agents to market and sell the land for investment purposes.”
The investigation also uncovered deficiencies in the books and records of all the companies.
At Century Property Group, there were no invoices or other relevant documentation to explain the purpose of over £3m of payments, including £2.8m of payments made to connected associates, individuals and companies.