RegulationJun 17 2013

Harlequin: FCA call for investor caution ‘common sense’

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ByMichael Trudeau and Donia O’Loughlin

The Financial Conduct Authority has urged consumers to use caution when investing in the Harlequin group of companies but Harlequin has told FTAdviser the caution is “merely common sense advice urging consideration”, as would be expected with any investment.

On a webpage for consumers published today the regulator recommends prospective Harlequin investors contact a financial adviser.

At the beginning of the year (18 January), the FCA issued an alert to advisers telling them to give careful consideration before advising a customer to invest in the company.

On 5 March 2013 the Serious Fraud Office announced that it was looking into complaints in relation to the group. On 23 April, Harlequin Property filed to enter administration.

The FCA said on its website: “If you are considering investing in the Harlequin group, we urge you to proceed with caution.

“Ensure that you fully understand the risks involved with the investment. We recommend that you contact an appropriately qualified financial adviser and obtain legal advice from lawyers in the country where the property is located before proceeding with an investment in a company in the Harlequin group.”

A spokesperson for Harlequin told FTAdviser: “Harlequin is currently seeking completions from existing investors on over 100 completed villas, which form part of its award winning Buccament Bay Resort.

“The FCA statement is similar to its previous alert, which Harlequin helped to draft, and is merely common sense advice urging consideration, as would be expected with any investment. Harlequin has always urged investors to seek independent advice and agents/IFAs to carry out proper due diligence; guidelines to that effect were published on the Harlequin Property website a number of years ago. Harlequin is pleased to be handing over completed properties.”

Harlequin chairman David Ames previously defended his company in an exclusive interview with FTAdviser last week, saying that although there have been some unforeseen difficulties in developing the planned property, it offers a “commercial, Sippable product”.