Property 

Harlequin chairman trial date set

Harlequin chairman trial date set

Harlequin chairman David Ames will go on trial in September 2018.

Following a hearing at Southwark Crown Court, it was decided that his trial would last between 12 and 14 weeks.

Mr Ames, 65, of Wickford, Essex, was charged on three counts of fraud by abuse of position.

His next case management hearing will take place on 21 September where an application to dismiss the case will be heard.

The first charge alleges dishonesty from 2010 onwards, with an alleged loss to investors of around £225m.

The alternative second charge alleges dishonesty from 2011 onwards with an alleged loss of around £130m.

The third charge relates to a successor company of Harlequin Management Services (South East), namely Harlequin Hotels and Resorts (Cayman) Ltd, alleging dishonesty from the middle of 2012 onwards, with an alleged loss to investors of around £35m.

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

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 in February 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.”

damian.fantato@ft.com

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