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SFO investigates £150m leasehold investment schemes

SFO investigates £150m leasehold investment schemes

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) is investigating two investment schemes in relation to suspected fraud and money laundering. 

The Alpha and Green Park group of companies are believed to have misled investors into investing £150m into leasehold schemes promising 8-10 per cent returns in the first ten years. 

The SFO said the Alpha-branded companies sold leaseholds for student accommodation in Leicestershire, Lancashire, Staffordshire and West Yorkshire, while Green Park-branded companies sold leaseholds for holiday homes in Devon.

The SFO said 1,500 investors from around 50 different countries invested an estimated £150m into these leasehold schemes between 2014 and 2018 on the back of the guaranteed returns, but all stopped receiving these in 2018.

It believes the directors of the company made £20m from the schemes.

Mick Gallagher, chief investigator at the Serious Fraud Office, said: “Thousands of ordinary people lose their pensions or life savings on risky schemes, while those at the top line their own pockets and enjoy a lavish lifestyle.

"The Serious Fraud Office is committed to delivering justice for victims of fraud and corruption. We invite anyone who believes they have a connection with our investigation to come forward."

Following a six month covert investigation the SFO yesterday (September 29) carried out co-ordinated raids, interviews and mandatory requests for evidence across the country. 

Working with Cleveland Police, it carried out formal searches on multiple properties, arresting and interviewing one suspect.

At the same time it issued several Section 2 notices, which force companies to provide relevant information.

UK-based investors will now be contacted by the SFO and asked to fill out a questionnaire by November 30 to help it “identify and pursue new information and continue progressing the investigation as quickly as possible.”

sally.hickey@ft.com