Pensions  

Harlequin sales halted following FSA alert

A Cheshire-based alternative investment firm has stopped promoting Harlequin products as a result of the FSA’s pronouncements, Alistair Burns has said.

In a statement from TailorMade Alternative Investments, part of the TailorMade Group, Mr Burns, director of TMAI said up until the FSA’s alert regarding Harlequin Property in January, TMAI was one of “hundreds of worldwide distributors” and it displayed Harlequin Property on its website.

However, Mr Burns said Harlequin Property was no longer seen as an appropriate investment. He said there were “genuine concerns and questions to be answered”, and TMAI was urgently seeking answers on behalf of its agents and their clients.

However, he added: “Harlequin has opened and operates two quality Caribbean resorts [Buccament Bay and Hotel blu], achieving premium room rates, which is the key to generating investor returns.”

TailorMade Group has an advisory, self-invested personal pension and alternative investment business, with the same directors across the brands.

According to Companies House and FSA register searches, Mr Burns and Robert Shaw are directors of TMAI and of Openwork-appointed representative TailorMade Financial Solutions, and a directly authorised firm TailorMade Independent, which operates a panel of preferred Sipp providers.

Mr Burns is also director of the TailorMade Sipp, a Sipp provider and trustee, which a spokesman said contains no Harlequin investments.

Jane Day, of Loco Communications, a spokesman for the TailorMade Group, said all directors adhere to a conflict of interest policy. She added that other business interests had been declared to Openwork, but insisted no Harlequin transactions had come through the AR side.

It comes as one investor, Paul Walton, claimed he attended a Warrington roadshow in 2010 by the TailorMade Group, which promoted Harlequin Property. He said he had a meeting with TailorMade Sipp, where a scheme was opened with the intention of putting some of the money into Harlequin Property’s Buccament Bay resort in St Vincent. He said: “The presentations were fancy and, with Sipp companies doing due diligence and TailorMade checking the account each month, what could go wrong?”

A spokesman for TailorMade was unable to comment on Mr Walton’s case.

The spokesman added that its Sipp business would have set up the scheme, but the client would have decided on the investments.

Meanwhile, a document seen by Financial Adviser revealed a number of Sipp providers had accepted Harlequin Property investments, including the Rowanmoor Group.

A spokesman for Rowanmoor said it started accepting Harlequin investments in 2009, but stopped in 2011 due to concerns over the projects.

Alltrust, another provider, said: “No new investments have been accepted for the past year.”

Hornbuckle Mitchell and the Lifetime Sipp have both confirmed that they have exposure to Harlequin Property.

Last Friday (8 March), Regulatory Legal dropped a case seeking to freeze Harlequin’s assets after an out-of-court settlement was reached.

A statement from Harlequin Property said it has acted honestly and in line with good commercial practices and welcomes the opportunity to address any concerns with the SFO.