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April 2020

Shepherd Cox Propaganda Video

Shepherd Cox Propaganda Video 400 267 Adam Reeves

A Shepherd Cox propaganda video has been produced and distributed to investors.  Here’s a link to the full version.  It’s quite interesting, but it is nothing more than propaganda dressed up to look like an impartial interview.

It has to be remembered that the Shepherd Cox propaganda video has been produced and presented by Brett Alegre-Wood of Gladfish Property Investment Ltd.  This is a company which sold a large number of Shepherd Cox hotel rooms and is rightfully being questioned by its investors as to whether it has exposed them to illegal investment schemes.  Gladfish investors may not even have known there was a problem because Lee Bramzell and Brett Alegre-Wood are buddies.  Lee would have looked after Brett’s investors.  But, regarding the investors in the Far East – well, Shepherd Cox doesn’t care about them.  They can ask for their rentals as much as they like but Shepherd Cox has their money now.

Brett is very keen his investors do not question the Shepherd cox investment because it would lay Gladfish open to claims for compensation and seriously undermine his claims to be a “a London and UK property expert”.

At this point we could dissect the Shepherd Cox video minute by minute but that would be tedious.  You can sit through the whole video if you like but it boils down to just three key points.  Those are:

1. Shepherd Cox says the issue of unpaid rentals is not particularly significant.  Lee Bramzell makes light of the claims.  He also states that the six Shepherd Cox companies which have administration applications filed against them are solvent.  Our response to that is that more than 100 investors are owed rentals which are on average 12 – 18 months overdue and if the companies are solvent then why haven’t those rentals been paid ?  Shepherd Cox will have an opportunity to prove solvency when it submits its defence on 30th April.

2. The Brett and Lee double act claims an administration is expensive and investors are much better off sticking with Shepherd Cox.  Shepherd Cox is a company which doesn’t pay rentals, sells rooms at grossly inflated prices, siphons money off to buy hotels for themselves in which investors have no ownership or entitlements, and which doesn’t tell the truth.  In the Shepherd Cox propaganda video Lee Bramzell says Shepherd Cox sold rooms in six hotels.  The truth is that it sold rooms in eight hotels.  Lee is conveniently forgetting the Lymm and Knutsford hotels and we know why.

Brett’s carefully managed questions failed to mention the Knutsford hotel where Shepherd Cox sold rooms at £90,000 each and then bought them back off investors for £12,000 each.  Just £12,000 each.  That was a loss to every investor of £78,000.  Very convenient that Brett Alegre-Wood didn’t question Lee Bramzell about that hotel.

Then there is the Lymm hotel where rooms were also sold at £90,000 each by Shepherd Cox.  In 2018 they wrote to investors to say that an independent valuer had now valued the rooms at £30,000 each and it would make sense for investors to give up their leases for shares.  Thank God investors were not stupid enough to do that.  That’s another question Brett forgot to ask Mr Bramzell i.e how is it that in less than 3 years, rooms that Shepherd Cox sold for £90,000 were only worth £30,000 ?

It is worth pointing out that this valuation of £30,000 was provided by someone appointed by Shepherd Cox and was based on the business’ “income potential” and not on the actual value of a room if the business failed and the investor tried to sell the room.  If it was based on actual room value it is likely the valuation would have come out very near the Knutsford price of £12,000.  We have no doubt that the rooms in all of the six hotels are actually worth less than £15,000 each.  That’s probably close to the amount of commission Gladfish were paid for selling them.  That could be one of the questions Gladfish investors should ask i.e how much of our money went to your company ?  An administrator would be looking at payments made to sales agents like Gladfish.

An administration does not have to be expensive at all.  Shepherd Cox knows that because it has been down this road before.  If Shepherd Cox comes up with a fair offer for investors, either before or very soon after the administration, then the costs can be very low.  Shepherd Cox paid just over £7,000 in administration costs to purchase the freehold of a hotel so they know it can be done very cheaply.  Brett and Lee were just trying to scare investors which is one of their tactics.

Another tactic is to try to persuade investors that there are no other people in the UK who can run hotels like Shepherd Cox when there are thousands.  In fact, if investors wanted to run the hotels EXACTLY like Shepherd Cox i.e badly, then there are millions of people who can do that !

Yet another tactic is to make out that for investors to take action to recover their losses they would have to pay a lot of money.  Well…. we’ve got bad news for Brett and Lee.  We work with law firms who have access to funding and they are already well advanced on this case.  We intend to go after every party which played a part in this investment irrespective of the outcome of the administration applications.  The legal opinion obtained by the ten investors is very clear that the sale of hotel rooms to the investors was unlawful.  We believe Shepherd Cox does not have the money nor the assets to repay all investors so other culpable parties will have to contribute, including Brett’s company Gladfish Investment Property Ltd.

3. Towards the end of the Shepherd Cox propaganda video we get to the real reason why it has been produced.  It is all about trying to persuade investors to swap their room leases in the six hotels for shares in a new company which would own the six hotels.

We have said this before and we will say it again.  We will keep saying it until Lee Bramzell and Nick Carlile realise that investors are not idiots.  We will print it in bold so that hopefully the message gets across.

Investors paid £15m for their rooms.  The leases give them some security.  If investors swap leases for shares they will have no security for their investment.

Shepherd Cox is offering shares in six hotels which have a realistic value of around £4m-£5m in total.  Shepherd Cox will retain 50% of the shares in the new company which will mean investors will own around £2.5m of assets.  Even if Shepherd Cox makes arrangements for the investors to have preferential rights to the assets that is still only £5m maximum.  If investors swap leases for shares Shepherd Cox could immediately close down the companies and investors would have written off at least £10m of their money.

DO THEY REALLY THINK INVESTORS WILL ACCEPT £2.5M OR £5M OF ASSETS FOR £15M OF THEIR CASH ?  DO THEY REALLY THINK THAT’S AN ATTRACTIVE OFFER ?  

There are now 55 investors who have joined our group.  The group is seeking a full refund of the investment money + payment of overdue rent + costs.  Our group will not accept any share swap arrangement unless Shepherd Cox provides strong security to protect the amount owed and guarantees the 8% per annum payment they are currently promising as a “preferential dividend”.

At the moment Shepherd Cox and Brett Alegre-Wood are pretending that the preference shares investors will be offered are guaranteed to pay 8%.  This promise is false.  In the UK dividends can only be paid out of profits.  These Shepherd Cox hotels have not been making any profits.  No profits = no dividend payments.  Investors will not receive this promised income.

The share swap proposal only includes the six investor hotels.  There is no way our investor group will only accept just those six hotels being included in a share swap agreement.  The money paid by our investors + their unpaid rental arrears have been used to purchase and support other hotels in the Shepherd Cox portfolio.  Our investors want those hotels included in any potential deal as security for their investment and the promised 8% dividend. Lee Bramzell and Nick Carlile are being very greedy and want to keep those other hotels for themselves, yet those hotels have been financed by the room investors.    

Our investor group continues to grow.  The Shepherd Cox propaganda video desperately tries to persuade investors to swap the security of their leases for shares in a loss-making group of hotels and false dividend promises.  The Shepherd Cox propaganda video is an attempt to pressurise investors into surrendering their leases now, but investors don’t have to do that.  They can still do that anytime in the months ahead if they wish.  Investors are not stupid.  They know there is a reason why Shepherd Cox is so desperate to get them to commit before the hearing and it isn’t because it is a better deal for investors.

When all is said and done we hope Shepherd Cox has a very good and realistic offer to make to investors before the court hearing.  We believe the companies will have to go into administration no matter what offer is presented.  It is then a question of the terms of that administration and whether the hotels are brought out of administration quickly and at low cost.  That can be done.  The UCIS allegation is serious and, if proven, would give investors a wide range of compensation options.

Shepherd Cox has the option of working with investors or opposing them.  It has chosen to oppose them and is running out of time.  If there is no settlement and the companies go into administration then investors will have absolutely no need for Shepherd Cox, Lee Bramzell, Nick Carlile and Adam Stanborough.

On a linked matter, the UK citizen who is taking action to recover a £800,000 loan given to Lee Bramzell and Nick Carlile has appointed a very capable lawyer.

To view our earlier article on Shepherd Cox please click here.

To view a more recent update to the Shepherd Cox case please click here.

 

SOS Investor Wins Judgement Against Central FX

SOS Investor Wins Judgement Against Central FX 350 225 Adam Reeves

SOS investor wins judgement against Central FX.

Investors and followers of the Bar Works workspace investment fraud will know we have long held the opinion that the relationship between Bar Works and Central FX (their preferred and recommended FCA-regulated currency exchange company in the UK) was irregular and highly questionable.

As a result of our investigations into Bar Works we believed Central FX was complicit in aiding the expansion of the Bar Works Ponzi Scheme by failing to comply with the strict compliance requirements required under UK financial services regulations.  In other words, we felt Central FX was not the arms’ length service provider it should have been.

It has always been our belief that the Bar Works – Central FX relationship was damaging to investors’ interests and that Central FX was operating in breach of a number of UK financial services regulations which had the ultimate effect of assisting Bar Works in perpetrating what has already been determined in the US courts as investment fraud.

More than two years ago one of our team, Keith, filed a claim with Central FX for a full refund of a client’s investment in Bar Works.  The sum involved was US$ 100,000.  The claim was dismissed out of hand by Central FX who advised that the client should seek the recovery of her money from Bar Works.  Central FX already knew at that time that Bar Works had collapsed, millions had gone missing and the owners were being prosecuted for fraud.

We did not accept the Central FX rebuttal and elevated the case to the UK’s Financial Ombudsman Service (“FOS”).  The FOS is responsible for adjudicating on disputes between ordinary consumers and companies regulated by the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority.

We are pleased to report that the FOS has now adjudicated that Central FX failed to comply with UK regulations and has recommended to the company that they refund our client in full (less any payments she received from the investment).  The FOS has recommended that Central FX pay US$ 93,000 to our client.  Our client has accepted the judgement and informed the FOS accordingly.  Central FX has a right of appeal but the FOS examiner has presented a strong case for his findings and was very clear in the reasons for his judgement.

All cases are different and our client had some issues which were specific to her claim and not relevant to other investors, e.g she had made it clear that the money was not to be released until she had signed a contract with Bar Works, but Central FX released her money anyway.  However, the examiner has considered some of the other allegations we made in our submission which do relate to our other investors, namely that investors believed they were investing in a USA company operating out of the USA and that not one single investor had any idea their money was actually being sent by Central FX to a bank account in the Bahamas.

For those who do not know anything about the Bar Works investment fraud there is a lot of information available on the internet, but it can be summarised very simply as follows:

1. The workspace investments were offered by Bar Works Inc, a US Delaware-incorporated company.

2. Investors signed up to rent their workspaces to Bar Works Management Inc, a subsidiary US company in return for a guaranteed rental payment each month.

3. Investors were pushed towards Central FX to change their GBP, Euros, Dirhams, Krone etc into USD to be transferred across to Bar Works.  Investors believed the money was going to the USA.

The client account at Central FX was titled “Bar Works 97901”.  No investor knew or was informed that this account actually belonged to Bar Works Services Inc, a Bahamas company established by serial conman Renwick Haddow.

We could write a book on this fraud, but we’ll let the FOS Examiner sum it up.  He said

“I think it is clear that Central FX would have had sight of the promotional information that potential ‘Bar Works’ investors were being provided with….”

“I also think Central FX should have questioned why any payments that ‘Bar Works’ investors were looking to make were being sent to Bar Works Services Inc, to an account in the Bahamas – particularly as the promotional material isn’t clear and transparent on this”.

“Bearing this in mind – along with the number of ‘Bar Works’ investors that Central FX provided services for; the amount of money being sent across; and the commissions it would have received – I can’t see how it’s taken reasonable care as per [the regulations] in not carrying out any due diligence [our bold] on Bar Works Inc, Bar Works Management Inc and indeed Bar Works Services Inc”.  [Our comment:  the FOS Examiner is stating that Central FX didn’t even carry out due diligence on the company which held the account].

“….my view is that Central FX should have taken what I consider to be fairly basic steps to protect both itself and its customer from the risk that it would be used to further financial crime”.

“If it had taken these steps I’m satisfied it would have identified that payments weren’t going where these customers had intended and that there was a high risk this was investment fraud”.

“……it opened itself up to the risk of being used to further financial crime – and exposed its customers and their money to an unnecessary and unreasonable level of risk.  This is why I’m of the opinion that it’s fair for Central FX to bear responsibility for the losses that [Client Name] – and other Central FX customers suffered [our bold] – from Central FX facilitating their payments to ‘Bar Works’.

“THE LOSSES THAT [NAME] AND OTHER CENTRAL FX CUSTOMERS SUFFERED…..” That’s a hugely significant and important statement for all investors who used Central FX to invest in Bar Works.  We know a lot of investors who used Central FX as the currency exchange provider to invest in Bar Works.

There is a second group of investors who also had a financial relationship with Central FX and will be wondering how this affects them.  Their issues were not specifically addressed by this report, but we believe their claims are significantly strengthened by this outcome and we will be working alongside their legal representatives to scrutinise this report in detail.  The solicitor has advised that he will write to all clients in the next seven days.

The only caveat to this article is that Central FX does have a right to appeal the judgement and we will wait to see if that happens.  In our opinion their appeal is unlikely to succeed if the FOS Examiner is correct that they didn’t actually carry out any due diligence on Bar Works Inc, Bar Works Management Inc and Bar Works Services Inc.  It makes one wonder if that failure to carry out due diligence extends to other failed investment schemes with which they may have had some involvement.

This judgement is undoubtedly fantastic news for some of the hundreds of investors who lost money in the Bar Works fraud.

SOS Investor Wins Judgement Against Central FX is proof that if you stick at it and keep challenging on behalf of smaller investors you can prevail. It’s not quick and the outcome is never guaranteed, but if you know you are right then don’t give up the fight.

To view our previous article on Bar Works / Central FX please click here.

 

Justice

Signature Hotel of Cards

Signature Hotel of Cards 300 200 Adam Reeves

The Signature Hotel of Cards is collapsing fast after the first card, Signature Shankly Ltd, was pulled from the structure by being put into administration by Henslow Trading Ltd.  Henslow Trading Ltd is a subsidiary of one of the Blackfinch companies (we’re not going to go through all the Blackfinch companies because there are a lot).  Here is our previous article on Signature Shankly.

Investors were gazumped on the morning of their hearing against Signature Shankly Ltd by an administration application made by Henslow Trading Ltd.  The investors’ hearing was due to hear allegations that Signature Shankly Ltd was an unregulated collective investment scheme and that, if proven, investors would be entitled to a full refund of their investment.

We now see other Signature companies rapidly being placed into administration.  Signature Living Hotel Ltd, a guarantor for many of the Signature loans, quickly followed.  Read our article on Signature Living Hotel Ltd here.

This week, The Bedford Hotel Ltd, owner of The George Best Hotel in Belfast, was placed into administration by Lyell Trading Ltd, another subsidiary of Blackfinch.

Signature Victoria Mill Ltd, owner of the Signature Victoria Mill site in Manchester, was also placed into administration.  See Gazette Notice here.

The Signature Hotel of Cards was built on contributions of smaller investors around the world who bought bedrooms in the hotels, gave short-term loans to the companies on high interest rates, and who purchased virtual workspaces.  When you put it like that it already sounds shaky.  However, the foundations appeared strong because the Hotel of Cards had the backing of some big investment institutions.

The positions of the larger institutional and corporate investors were always secured over assets, unlike the small investors who had no security.  Individual room investors were always told that their security was their leases which were filed at the Land Registry.  Investors in other products were told they were secured by the top company, Signature Living Hotel Ltd, but they were never told the true financial position of SLH.  Now we will see how much the room leases are really worth.  Historical cases involving other companies which sold hotel rooms show that the leases are never worth anywhere near what investors paid for them.

We’re still unsure of the attitude of the investment companies to the position of smaller investors.  Are they going to ensure smaller investors get a fair shake or are they going to just look after themselves ?

We have more we could publish because some of the issues we have uncovered raise very serious questions.  For now, investors must act because they do not want to find themselves in a situation like the Park First investors or the Northern Powerhouse Developments investors.  Whenever smaller investors are facing administrators appointed by parties with an interest in protecting their own positions, smaller investors will find themselves at the very end of the queue if they are not well organised.

There are pressures that can be brought to bear on the parties involved which will improve the position of all smaller investors.

PLEASE NOTE:  We use the term ‘smaller investors’ to refer to all individual investors who are not professional lending or investment institutions.  This in no way reflects the level of investment made by these investors because the amounts they have invested are definitely not small.  The potential loss of investment for these investors would have a huge impact on their lives. 

 

Scam Alert

Investments Global Ltd

Investments Global Ltd 300 233 Adam Reeves

A scam calling itself Investments Global Ltd is contacting people who have lost money in binary option frauds to inform them that it is holding large sums of their money in escrow and really wants to pay the money over.  It is the usual ploy of requesting payment from the intended victim so that this large, non-existent sum can be released. There is no money held in escrow – it’s a scam.

There is a company registered at Companies House under the name of Investments Global Ltd, but this is most likely a case of identity fraud where the scammer is using the name and address of a legitimate company and will ask the intended victim to pay their money into a money mule account.  If you check the people tab at Companies House you will see the current director is a man called Alessandro Gandini. Correspondence from the scammer is signed with the name of Alessandro Gandini so at least the scammer has made an effort to keep it real.  Interestingly, I noted that when the company was formed in 2006 the registered director was a company called Trumpwise. Now there are two words you don’t normally see going together !

This scam is really pretty shoddy.  As one investor put it “the letter looked like it had been printed at home on a bubble-jet printer”.  The scammer’s command of English is also poor.  We’ll upload a version of it later this week, but we wanted to get this warning out as quickly as possible.

This scammer doesn’t even know any of the details of the original investment, referring to holding money from a sale of shares that the intended victim had purchased.  The original investment scam was actually short-term binary option trading.  The investor didn’t buy any shares.

Be warned – this scammer has obtained investors’ telephone numbers and is both writing and telephoning them.  If you are contacted by anyone claiming to be from the UK company Investments Global Ltd and who says the company has money held in escrow, report the matter to Action Fraud.

DO NOT PAY ANY MONEY TO THIS SCAM.

 

Scam Alert

HW Securities

HW Securities 300 233 Adam Reeves

HW Securities is running a fake currency trading scam.  The organisation claims to be a division of Hing Wong Securities Ltd domiciled in Hong Kong, with offices in Dublin and Frankfurt.  A visit to the Dublin office revealed that they are not there and nobody has heard of them.

The company’s website was registered in August 2019.  A copy of the HW Securities brochure is provided here, complete with spelling mistakes. It describes itself as “a Hong Kong based state of the art investment firm”.

HW Securities Brochure 2019

For the avoidance of doubt HW Securities is a scam.  The trades it claims to make on behalf of investors are fake. They were never made. It is just a smart piece of software which makes it look like trades have taken place.

HW Securities has used a series of money mule companies to collect payments from investors. The money mules act as cut-outs to prevent investors from finding out the ultimate destination of the money.  We know HW Securities has taken in at least £500,000 from investors.

One of the UK money mule accounts used by the company was:

Bank Name:  TIDE BANK

Account Name:  UTE UK LIMITED

Sort Code:  23-69-72

Account Number:  20316349

Action is being undertaken against the people involved in this company.

There is clear evidence this scam was established by the same people behind the St James Asset Management, Van Gossum Consult and Brooklands Investment Funds PLC scams.  You can read about each of them on these links.

St Johns Asset Management

Van Gossum Consult

Brookfield Investment Funds PLC

This is the fourth scam product established by the same organised crime gang.  This group has scammed tens of millions of dollars from investors. We are still making progress on these cases and will publish an update in the near future.

 

Signature Living Hotel Ltd

Signature Living Hotel Ltd 350 225 Adam Reeves

We’re hearing a very strong rumour that the next Signature company to benefit from intervention is Signature Living Hotel Ltd, the company which acted as Guarantor for many of the schemes.  It is the Signature company which sits at the very top of the pyramid.

Pyramid is actually a good word to describe the Signature portfolio of investments. That word is often linked to the word ‘scheme’.  Another word which is also often linked to the word ‘scheme’ is Ponzi.  Here is an interesting link which explains the meaning of those words when they are used together.

I’m looking at a contract taken out by an unfortunate investor who loaned £250,000 to a Signature company where the Guarantor was Signature Living Hotel Ltd.  The contract was for one year.  It paid 16% “interest” which was paid in advance i.e as soon as the investor paid the £250,000 he received £40,000 back as “interest”.  Sure enough, when the year was up the Signature company defaulted on the repayment of the capital.

The Signature company which was described as the Borrower was apparently going to use the money to develop The Coal Exchange in Cardiff and to “on-lend” to other Signature companies.  Here are a few sentences from the agreement:

The Borrower shall on-lend sums borrowed by it under this agreement to the Signature Living Hotel Group who shall use such sums for general corporate purposes including any related operational expenses with respect to the redevelopment of The Exchange Hotel situated at 4-5, Mount Stuart Square, Cardiff, CF10 5FQ, United Kingdom.

The Lender is not obliged to monitor or verify how any amount under this agreement is used. 

Were we the only ones to notice the sudden flurry of legal charges filed over a lot of the Signature companies in the last few months ?  To view our previous article on Signature Shankly  please click here.

UPDATE 21ST APRIL 2020:  The administration of Signature Living Hotel Ltd has been confirmed.  Here is the link to the London Gazette Notice.

 

Signature Shankly

Signature Shankly 350 225 Adam Reeves

SIGNATURE SHANKLY LTD  –  20/04/2020:

WE HAVE AMENDED OUR ORIGINAL ARTICLE AT THE REQUEST OF SOME OF THE PARTIES INVOLVED.  WE ARE ALWAYS HAPPY TO AMEND ANY INACCURATE STATEMENTS WHEN IDENTIFIED OR TO UPDATE OUR ARTICLES IF ANY OF THE PARTIES INVOLVED IS SUPPORTING INVESTORS.

Signature Shankly Ltd, the company which owns The Shankly Hotel in Liverpool, was forced into administration on 9th April 2020.

However, the administration had a twist in the tail and wasn’t the outcome investors were expecting.

Safe Or Scam has been investigating a whole suite of Signature hotel investments, workspace investments and loan notes for a long time. Here is one of our earlier articles. 

One of our clients filed an emergency administration application over Signature Shankly Ltd which was due to be heard by the High Court in London at 1030 hrs on 9th April 2020.  We had brought together several other investors to support the application.

Approximately one hour before the hearing investors were informed that Signature Shankly Ltd had been put into administration by one of its main lenders – Henslow Trading Ltd.

The lender is perfectly entitled to take this course of action and there is nothing unlawful in it, but it strikes us as odd that they would not wait until after the investors’ application had been heard.

CORRECTION 20/04/2020 – at this point we stated that the law firm representing Signature Shankly Ltd AGAINST the investors’ application turned out to be the same law firm representing the lender FOR their application against Signature Shankly Ltd.  That law firm has advised that it has no relationship with the lender which we now accept.

The investors had selected Quantuma LLP as their administrator of choice.  Following the sudden intervention of Henslow Trading Ltd, Quantuma issued this statement:

Following a request by an investor in Signature Shankly Limited, Quantuma were requested at consent to their appointment as Joint Administrators of the Company [Signature Shankly Limited].

Investors were concerned that despite repeated requests, Signature Shankly Limited had failed to maintain payments to investors or buy back investments under agreed terms.  A number of investors issued an administration application as a result of their unpaid liabilities and hoped that Quantuma would be able both to deal with their investments and also undertake an independent investigation into the affairs of the Company. 

Quantuma partner Simon Bonney said, “these are very concerning events for investors.  The Company and the wider Signature group have been subject to winding up petitions and the administration of Signature Shankly is going to have serious consequences, not least because over £10m of the company’s money seems to have been lent to other Group companies according to the last filed accounts.  Those funds will have to be repaid”. 

Mark Hendrick of Quantuma is currently advising a number of investors and Quantuma is urging investors to get in touch.  

Although this administration application related to Signature Shankly Ltd, investors in every Signature investment product, including Signature Shankly Ltd, are invited to contact us via our Contact Form page.

We feel it is time for Signature investors to unite to protect what value is left in their investments.  We have partnered with a law firm to take matters forward.

To view our next article on the Signature investment scandal please click here.

 

Allansons Litigation Funding Investment

Allansons Litigation Funding Investment 350 225 Adam Reeves

We have been investigating the Allansons Litigation Funding investment ever since the intervention by the SRA.  In fact, we were warning investors about this investment as far back as June 2018, long before it collapsed – see this brief warning here.

This was a very well-constructed investment which ensured that many of the usual potential investor recovery options had been considered at the very start and closed off to investors.

We have had a lot of enquiries from Allansons investors, but we have not felt comfortable with investors risking money on a potential recovery action whilst there have been so many unknown factors.

Added to that was the fact that there were some investors who misguidedly believe the SRA were at fault for intervening and that Allansons LLP, and its founder Roger Allanson, would yet save the day for them.  That was never a realistic possibility and we believe those investors are beginning to realise that.  We also believe some people have intentionally misled investors into supporting Allansons LLP and delaying action.  Their reasons for doing so are unclear, but we intend to look into that.  Their advice has certainly not helped investors.

The bottom line is that large groups of investors have been hanging on for a very long time.  They’ve been led to believe that progress has been made when in effect it hasn’t.  This delay has undoubtedly meant that some of the funds taken from investors have been transferred beyond reach.  This investment scheme raised £20m+ so the sums involved are not small.

We are always interested in any investment scheme which involves Dr Constantine Pagonis.  Readers of our other blog articles will know that he has been involved, in some capacity or other, in many collapsed investments.  He was very much involved in the Allansons Litigation Funding investment along with his regular finance partner domiciled in Poland.

Roger Allanson has recently announced that Allansons LLP is putting itself into voluntary administration, yet we note this has not yet been confirmed by publication in the London Gazette.  We are therefore sceptical until we see it has been officially published.

Some investors appear pleased with the announcement of the appointment of an administrator, assuming that Roger Allanson’s claims are true.  We believe they are wrong to regard that as a positive step.  Roger Allanson is appointing the administrator, not the investors.  We have seen many cases where an administrator appointed by a director does very little to assist investors, drags a case on for years and then liquidates the company claiming that there were no recoverable assets.  Creditors end up with nothing and wonder what the hell happened…… A director putting his company into administration once he has had the time to close off all loose ends is inevitably going to result in zero recovery for creditors.

We now feel we have enough leads that the time is right to propose to investors that they take action over the Allansons Litigation Funding investment.  We have partnered with a law firm to pursue actions against parties involved in the investment.  We cannot provide further details in this article because we are waiting for the law firm to approve a joint communication.  This should happen in the next few days and we will publish that communication.

In the meantime any investor who would like further information is invited to contact us.

Please click here to view a more recent article on this same story.

 

Aston Darby

Aston Darby 350 225 Adam Reeves

Safe Or Scam has been gathering evidence on the Aston Darby / Drake Estates car parking investments for some time.  See our previous article here.

These companies sold (and are still selling) car parking plots on sites in Glasgow and Manchester.  Our investigations have left us in no doubt that the Aston Darby group of companies, which includes those using variations of the name ‘Drake Estates’, mis-sold the car parking plots using false and misleading information.  We have partnered with a law firm to assist investors in taking action to recover as much as they can from the investment.  The following text has been approved by the law firm Smooth Commercial Law.

Smooth Commercial Law are now actively working with Safe Or Scam the consumer champion to raise the profile and seek interest from concerned investors in Aston Derby.

Between the two businesses and their respective marketing abilities, it’s expected this collaboration will generate sufficient numbers of clients and financial resource to take proactive steps to begin the process to recover investors’ seed funds.

Aston Darby is a car park investment firm which offers unregulated investments in airport car parking spaces. The company is currently active and is still looking for investors, as of April 1st 2020.

These car park investments are unregulated and extremely high-risk. Neither the business nor the any of the agents selling the deals are regulated by the FCA. The “guaranteed” yield may not come and investors risk losing every penny of their investment. If this happened, neither The Financial Ombudsman Service nor the Financial Service Compensation Scheme would be able to help.

Due to their high-risk nature, these sorts of investments are only suited to experienced, wealthy investors. In their marketing, Aston Darby twice referred to these investments as “low-risk”. Any single-asset investment which offers 11% per annum yields is definitely not low-risk.

There are many anxious and aggrieved investors and this new joint venture is an opportunity to take some proactive action.

The Smooth Commercial Law and Safe Or Scam joint venture will ask for a low contribution from each new client payable to Smooth Commercial Law to meet the costs of, but not limited to, the continued marketing, barristers fees and court issue fees. The rest of the action will be undertaken on a ‘no win, no fee’ arrangement. 

END

For further information please contact us via our Contact Page.  

To view a more recent update on the Aston Darby car parking scheme please click here.

 

Justice

Shepherd Cox Response

Shepherd Cox Response 300 200 Adam Reeves

We’ve written to Shepherd Cox a few times recently and not received a response.  In March 2020, ten investors filed administration applications over six Shepherd Cox companies.  You can read our previous article about it here.

It appears that the pressure of facing six administration applications which allege not only that the companies are insolvent, but also that they operated unlawful investment schemes, has proven too much for Shepherd Cox.

They have come out fighting, but instead of a Sylvester Stallone professional boxer “Rocky” type scenario, it is more like a drunk whose been kicked out of a pub at closing time, can’t stand up properly and starts swinging his arms in all directions trying to land a punch on anything he can get close enough to.

The Shepherd Cox response could have been to write a clear and concise email to investors explaining why they believe the administration applications were incorrect and would not succeed, but instead they chose to write a very, very, very, very long email blaming Safe Or Scam, Coronavirus and the investors themselves for not being willing to accept non-payment of their guaranteed rentals.

The Shepherd Cox response was full of false statements and lies designed to mislead their own investors.  They appear willing to say anything to try to muddy the waters in the hope that they can persuade investors NOT to support the action being taken by other investors who have become frustrated with not being paid the rentals they are entitled to.

Our previous article was actually quite gentle on Shepherd Cox.  We had hoped they could be persuaded to put the investors best interests at heart and be willing to discuss a settlement which gives investors the best chance of recovering as much money as they can, but Shepherd Cox just doesn’t get it.  The Shepherd Cox response was to try to mislead investors with an incredible list of lies and false statements.  Now we feel it is fair to publish some of the things we were keeping quiet.  Those things are:

> – Shepherd Cox has a history of involvement in collapsed hotel room investment schemes going back as far as 2014.  See this report here.

> – Shepherd Cox knew that they were massively over-pricing the hotel rooms and that their model of selling hotel rooms with guaranteed rentals was always going to end in failure. They had clear evidence of that in 2014/2015.  Shepherd Cox sold hotel rooms in 2014 for £94,500.  They weren’t the hotel owner at that time.  They were the sales agent, but they had a falling out with the developer and took over the hotels. They later bought the rooms back from investors for £12,000.  Investors lost 85% of their investment.  That was not the kind of buy-back investors were expecting !

> – Two Shepherd Cox directors, Nick Carlile and Lee Bramzell, are the subject of a legal claim made by an investor who alleges they have defaulted on personal loans he gave to them. The sum of money is very large and it is the intention of the creditor to pursue bankruptcy proceedings against them if he is not repaid in full.

The Shepherd Cox response to the administration applications was so long and it contained so many lies that we simply cannot go through them all.  We don’t really need to because the situation can be summarised very easily.

Six Shepherd Cox hotel companies have to provide evidence to the court by 16th April 2020 that the allegations made by investors are false.  They have to prove to the court that the companies are solvent and that their investment schemes were lawful.  If they fail to do that then the companies are very likely to be placed into administration and investors are very likely TO BE ENTITLED TO FULL PAYMENT OF OVERDUE RENTALS AND A FULL REFUND OF THEIR INVESTMENTS.  This will apply to every investor.

We believe it is very unlikely that the six Shepherd Cox companies have enough assets to repay investors in full.  If the schemes are deemed unlawful we believe action is likely to be needed to be taken against other Shepherd Cox companies, company directors, lenders (there are some companies and individuals which appear throughout the process and which may have liability to compensate investors), and other parties involved in the unlawful schemes in order to recover more money.  That is what we have been working on.  We’re also able to work with the administrators on behalf of investors, the vast majority of which are based in the Far East and have asked us to assist them.

That’s it – very simple. 

No investor needs to worry about rentals, fake buy-backs and false promises.  No investor has to take over any hotel unless they choose to do so. If Shepherd Cox cannot persuade a court that the allegations are untrue then investors will be entitled to refunds.

The Shepherd Cox response was simply an attempt to stop investors from supporting the investors who filed the administration applications. It hasn’t worked because these applications are now supported by more than 50 investors.

The bad news for Shepherd Cox is that investors in Shepherd Cox Hotels (Lymm) Ltd and Shepherd Cox Hotels (Durham) Ltd have also been coming forward. These hotels aren’t included in the six administration applications. We are hoping that investors in Ibis Hotel Lymm and Hallgarth Manor will decide that they too have had enough and will apply for those companies to be placed into administration.

Any information on New Order Investments Ltd gratefully received, along with information on Universal Goldstar Limited.  It’s not a UK company so there’s a challenge for all would-be sleuths out there.

Shepherd Cox is very keen to tell investors it has every intention to be a £100m company.  They must be referring to the amount of money they will owe to investors in the future.

We thought we would finish this article with quotes from some of the investors who were persuaded to invest with Shepherd Cox.

Investor 1  -“We invested all our pensions in rooms at Sandpiper Hotel.  Shepherd Cox just paid the rentals on time at first 3 quarters. We pushed them to pay our payments on time respectively, but Adam Stanborough (partner of Shepherd Cox) always said “We are currently working through the payments”, “We are looking to make payments next week”,  “Let me check with accounts”…But, again and again, one week after another, we still can’t receive our payments.  No matter how terrible plight we are facing, they just kept refusing to pay. That makes us very frustrated and painful”.
Investor 2 – “I invested in Sandpiper Hotel room with a loan from the bank. I still can’t receive my payments for 2 quarters. I do need my rents to pay off debt and raise two sons. While they just kept refusing to pay. That makes me very anxious”.
Investor 3 – “They were always lying to investors”. 
Investor 4 – “I purchased the investment at The George Hotel, Piercebridge, from Shepherd Cox in 2017 and I received the first year rental payment, which is the only year I received the payment on time.  Since that, I’ve never received my quarter payments on time, they were all delayed at least 1 or 2 months. Regarding to the contract both sides agree with, Shepherd Cox is supposed to pay the delayed payment along with the interest. However, I didn’t receive any penny. On top of this, I haven’t received my 2019 quarter 2 and 3 rental payments yet. The experience with Shepherd Cox is horrible, as I always have to send lots of email to Adam Stanborough and Nick Carlile to remind them to pay off the payments, however, so far, his responses from them are either no reply or always stated that they are working on the payments within a week or 10 days. Shepherd Cox has no integrity with the investors at all as they’ve had broken the contract since 2018”.
Investor 5 – “I invested in the Jersey Arms hotel since June 2017. I received rent payments 1 year upfront, and supposed to receive a payment in December 2018, but was delayed till March of 2019 (3 months delay). I haven’t receive any payments since then 3 quarters rent are way pass due. I have emailed Shepherd Cox Adam [Stanborough] many times and receive the same answers. “Processing payments…, working on payments, etc.”This is very frustrating and I strongly believe they are a fraud. Please help get our money back as that money is our life savings!”
Investor 6 – “I invested on Jersey Arms Hotel, room number [XX] from Shepherd Cox Group through the agency of Taiwan Sofun, which was an agency in Taiwan. The total sum I paid was GBP 79500, including reservation deposit GBP 2,500. The completion date of the contract was May 2017. In July 2017, I received GBP 6,338. It was the rental payments of the first year that SC promised to pay, starting from May 2017 to Feb 2018, four quarters in total. On 21 Sep 2018 I got GBP 1,568, the Q1 payment that SC was to pay on 26 Aug 2018, about one month delayed. After that, I got no further rental payment. I wrote to Adam Stanborough, who was supposed to be in charge of the payment, asking for the Q2 payment SC should have paid me on 26 Nov 2018. He made up some excuses and delayed the payment until 31 Mar 2019. Afterwards, I didn’t get any more payment. I emailed him many times, but he made up more excuses for not paying me. There were some times he just ignored my letter and didn’t respond at all. Up to now, SC already owed me one year’s payment, that is, four quarters. For your reference, I attach the document concerned, hopefully it will help you know better about my case. Thank you very much”.
Investor 7 – “I invest in The Jersey Arms Hotel started from May 2017. Shepherd Cox just paid the rental on time at first 4 quarters. I try to pushed them to pay my payment on time, but Shepherd Cox Adam Stanborough always said “We are currently working through the payments”, “We are looking to make payments next week”,  .… It is frustrating to chase up the payment every time when it is due. And the overdue periods were going longer from one month to two months. I have fed up wasting my time to chase up payments. Shepherd Cox is a bad company, they owners are very dishonest”.
No matter how many excuses Shepherd Cox makes or who it tries to blame (Safe Or Scam, coronavirus or the investors themselves) it is clear to us that the directors just intended to take huge sums of money from ordinary investors, siphon it off to other ventures or to buy other hotels for themselves, and not pay the rentals that they had guaranteed to the investors.

 

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