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Harlequin chairman charged with fraud

Harlequin chairman charged with fraud

The Serious Fraud Office has charged David Ames, chairman of the Harlequin group of companies, with three counts of fraud by abuse of position.

The alleged activity occurred between January 2010 and June 2015.

David Ames, 65, from Wickford, Essex, has been requisitioned to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 22 March.

The SFO, together with Essex Police, announced it was investigating the Harlequin Group of companies on 5 March 2013.

In a statement the SFO pointed out that this investigation still continues.

Six thousand mainly UK pension investors ploughed around £400m into the unregulated overseas property scheme via financial advisers, hoping for ‘guaranteed returns’ of 10 per cent a year.

However only a handful of the properties were built, and most investors have been left without either their capital or any of the promised returns.

In a statement sent to investors this week preempting today's announcement from the SFO, Mr Ames said: "I maintain that I am innocent of any wrongdoing and am confident in the knowledge that I have always sought and taken the advice of top accountants and solicitors for all areas of the business."

laura.miller@ft.com