SFO launches Harlequin probe following FSA warning

The Serious Fraud Office is investigating complaints over the Harlequin property group together with Essex Police, in the latest action against the beleaguered investment group following a Financial Services Authority warning last month.

The SFO has called for investors in Harlequin to come forward, especially those who have transferred their pension to make investments into overseas property developments operated by Harlequin.

The launch of the investigation comes hot on the heels of an FSA warning in January over Harlequin self-invested personal pension investments, warning advisers against recommending clients put large sums into products weighted heavily towards the company’s overseas property.

Meetings for Harlequin investors will take place in Manchester on 9 March at noon and 3:00pm.

Specific resorts of particular interest to the SFO include:

• Buccament Bay in St Vincent & the Grenadines;

• Merricks in Barbados;

• Marquis Estate in St Lucia;

• The Hideaway, Las Canas;

• Two Rivers in the Dominican Republic; and

• Garapua Beach Resort in Brazil.

Buccament Bay, Harlequin’s flagship resort, has denied claims that it is in liquidation (23 January).

A spokesperson for Regulatory Legal, which is representing a number of Harlequin investors in claims against Sipp providers, said: “We are advising investors to review the update as a matter for urgency - there are meetings next week for investors.”