Regulation  

Six directors disqualified in landbanking scam

Six directors have been disqualified for a combined 74 years over taking more than £13m after misleading over 300 investors in a landbanking scam, according to the Insolvency Service.

An investigation by the official receiver revealed that two sales agents sold the land to members of the public for investment purposes using “misleading” marketing materials, in which the customers were led to believe the land would obtain planning permission and increase in future value.

Customers purchased the plots of ‘greenbelt land’ from the sales agents for anything between £7,500 and £20,000 per plot. The investigation revealed that the supply companies had purchased the same land for at little as £180 per plot.

The land suppliers MRT Land Holdings, run by Mark John Tull, its successor Boldacre and another company which actually purchased a piece of land, Raincode, were run by Mark John Tull and Carl Anthony Ballard who were both disqualified for 14 years.

These companies sourced and supplied the land for onward sale by sales agents which were provided with the marketing material, including ‘white label’ brochures where the sales agents would insert their own name and logo.

Mark Tull’s father Michael Rodney Tull, who was appointed as a director of MRT Land Holdings but took no active part in the running of the company, was still disqualified for seven years for his failure to carry out his responsibilities as a director.

The sales agents, including Dakota Partners International, and its successor Dakota Partners International CC whose registered directors were Christopher Farhat Gill who was disqualified for 14 years and Imran Rasool, received over £1.2m from its customers.

The Insolvency Service said Mr Rasool took no active part in the running of the company, but was also disqualified for 11 years.

Another sales agent, Century Property Group, formerly known as Century Land Group, whose registered director was Stephen John Wheeler of Bridgwater Somerset, received over £12m from unsuspecting customers. He was also disqualified for 14 years.

Matthew Stone, a senior examiner in the official receiver’s public interest unit at the Insolvency Service, said: “In over seven years of investigating land banking scams, I have not seen a single piece of land that has been sold actually go on to obtain planning permission.

“Whilst land can obviously be a secure investment, the way in which these companies sell it ultimately means there is no viable exit strategy for their so-called investment.”