Briton behind £226m fraud in alleged luxury housing developments in Caribbean, who stole thousands of small savers, was sentenced to 12 years in prison on Friday, September 30, 2022. The 70-year-old man was immediately jailed. He was found guilty in August.
More than 8,000 victims
The researchers discovered a big hoax during which more than 8,000 Britons invested, between 2010 and 2015, in Harlequin Group, a hotel and resort development company, convinced that it was a risk-free investment.
The victims told “his pensions and life savings, believing that his money would be invested in vacation homes” in Caribbean islands such as Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Lucia, Barbados and others, details in a press release the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), responsible for investigating and prosecuting serious or complex cases of fraud and corruption. But this project had no funding and almost no buildings were built.
The support of various political figures.
The victims paid a 30% deposit on the purchase of an unbuilt villa or hotel room, half of which went immediately to the expenses of Harlequin and its sales representatives. Buyers were even more confident that the venture had been supported, in particular, by the Prime Ministers of Barbados, Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, who had been persuaded by the potential spillover effects of tourism for these developing countries. Caribbean. countries.
This manna allowed the swindler and his family to enrich themselves with 6.2 million pounds, while the companies of the Harlequin group also employed his wife and son. The latter in particular received a salary of 10,000 pounds a month, the investigation revealed.
9,000 homes sold, 200 existing
By the time the group went bankrupt in 2013, eight years after the project began, 9,000 rooms or villas had been sold, of which fewer than 200 ultimately left the ground. The loss to the victims amounts to £398m, but only £226m was retained during the trial as the indictment period only goes back to 2010.
Many of the small savers and retirees with no investment experience had been convinced to invest in this fraudulent trap and found themselves in serious financial difficulties, with sometimes tragic repercussions on their family and personal life, or on their health, many fell into depression.
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