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Harlequin boss in court on fraud charges

Harlequin boss in court on fraud charges

The chairman of a celebrity-endorsed overseas property company has today (7 November) denied cheating investors out of £260m over the sale of thousands of 'off-plan' properties at luxury Caribbean resorts.

David Ames, 65, is said to have used celebrity endorsements to lend credibility to his alleged scam through the Harlequin Group of companies between January 2010 and June 2015.

The Harlequin Property scheme had endorsements from stars including former Wimbledon champion Pat Cash, golf legend Gary Player, football pundit Andy Townsend, TV property guru Phil Spencer and Liverpool Football Club.

There is no suggestion that any of the stars who endorsed or promoted the scheme were involved in any wrongdoing.

'Off-plan' properties are those purchased by an investor before they have been developed or completed.

Ames, a former double-glazing salesman, is said to have begun selling the properties at planned resorts across St Vincent, St Lucia, and Barbados, but many were never built.

He was charged with three counts of fraud by abuse of position back in March following a four-year investigation by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) with Essex Police.

Ames denied three fraud charges at Southwark Crown Court today and was bailed ahead of his trial which is expected to begin in January 2019.

Ames, of Brock Hill, Essex, denied three counts of fraud by abuse of position.

His trial will take place on 7 January 2019.