InvestmentsMay 23 2013

Harlequin blames ‘discrepancies’ for two-year redress delay

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Embattled property investment group Harlequin has said “discrepancies” in the amounts of redress being sought are responsible for ongoing delays to payment of close to £450,000 to five investors, following an order from a court in St Vincent and the Grenadines in 2011.

Five US investors that invested in a Harlequin resort in Buccament Bay have told FTAdviser they have not yet received around £444,000 in collective redress that the company was ordered to pay following a court ruling in August 2011.

Harlequin said the delay is due to clarifying the figures for which the judgements were obtained and that recent discussions with lawyers representing the investors mean it is “hopeful of reaching agreement with all these investors on a full and realistic payment plan”.

The five US investors bought their properties at Buccament Bay through deposits from the end of 2006 to the first quarter of 2007.

The investors said that after getting financial advice on the loan process, they decided they wanted to back out. The contracts expired in December 2008 and the investors then approached Harlequin to get their money back.

One investor told FTAdviser that Harlequin had made a partial repayment offer in 2009, but that this was refused.

The investors proceeded to take Buccament Bay Resort, Harlequin Management Services (South East) Ltd, which trades as Harlequin Property and has filed for administration, and the firm’s chairman David Ames to court.

The case commenced in June 2010.

In a judgement seen by FTAdviser, dated 9 August 2011, the High Court of Justice St Vincent and the Grenadines ruled that Harlequin had to repay two investors their original deposits, which were a minimum of $100,000 (£66,371), as well as a 10 per cent penalty plus interest of 6 per cent from 31 December 2008.

A letter detailing the schedule of payments from the investors’ lawyers, which FTAdviser has also seen, would have meant the final payment would have been received by 4 January 2012. This deadline has not been met.

Harlequin said that the delay was due to “major discrepancies” regarding the refund amounts.

The two investors told FTAdviser that all five investors are each owed around EC$361,574 (£88,894), which would amount to a total of EC$1,807,871 (£444,272).

All five investors had over US$100,000 in deposits and used lines of credit on their homes to finance this.

A spokesperson for Harlequin said: “The Harlequin group is fully aware of the legal situation regarding these claims. For some time we have attempted to clarify the figures for which judgment was obtained. We recently had an opportunity to do so and found major discrepancies regarding certain aspects of the refund amounts.