Former Harlequin boss Ames 'lured' investors in, court hears

Former Harlequin boss Ames 'lured' investors in, court hears

A company boss accused of cheating thousands of property investors out of millions of pounds ‘lured’ investors into the scam with deliberate lies, a court heard.

David Ames, 70, is accused of three counts of fraud by abuse of position while head of Harlequin Management Services South East Limited (HMSSE).

Ames allegedly encouraged investors to purchase overseas properties in the Caribbean before they were built and then failed to give them anything in return.

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The prosecutors claim he persuaded investors to sign contracts without revealing the true state of affairs at the company, causing a total loss of £226mn.

Thousands of investors lost £398mn in savings and pension pots between 2006 and 2015, Prospero House crown court has heard.

Ames told investigators he always acted on the advice of experts but he has decided not to give evidence in the long running fraud trial.

Michael Bowes QC, prosecuting, told jurors in his closing speech he "lured investors in" by offering a 100 per cent finance scheme with a 70 per cent mortgage guarantee.

‘That 70 per cent mortgage was not available. How could David Ames ever truthfully have allowed it to go out? He knew it simply wasn’t true’, said Bowes.

"They were saying 'come on, it’s lovely, we’ll look after you!'

"It was a deliberate lie to entice investors."

Jurors heard investors were told to "contact us for any further information".

Bowes pointed out that if potential investors asked for more information about the mortgage provider, they would have found that there was not one. 

"This made it sound like arrangements were in place, but they weren’t."

He said Ames had to keep selling in order to get the money to build the properties, but he would ultimately never make enough.

"You have to keep selling, with an ever-increasing obligation to build," said Bowes.

"You just have to keep selling, as you never get enough to build from what you’ve sold.

"Of course, David Ames understood. It is obvious it just gets out of hand. It was always out of control."

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

The trial continues.