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January 2023

Qualia Care Brief Update

Qualia Care Brief Update 300 300 SOS Team

Qualia Care Brief Update.

WE INVITED NICO BRUYNIKS, SEVERAL OF HIS INVESTOR CO-ORDINATORS, SHORTLANDS LAW AND ALASTAIR DOBBIE TO GIVE THEIR COMMENTS ON THIS ARTICLE. MR BRUYNIKS RESPONDED WITH COMMENTS. AS A RESULT, SECTIONS OF THIS ARTICLE HAVE BEEN TEMPORARILY REMOVED WHILST WE REVIEW WHETHER HIS COMMENTS ARE VALID OR NOT.

This is a warning for Qualia Care leaseholders NOT to pay any money over to Nico Bruyniks or his “investor co-ordinators” until such time as it is clear that there is a tangible benefit for the leaseholders. 

We are in receipt of emails sent out by Nico Bruyniks on Christmas Eve and another one on 26th January 2023 to hundreds of investors asking them to contribute £600,000.  We are reviewing the comments made in those emails and will be writing a more detailed article in the next week, however the key points of the emails are that Mr Bruyniks is seeking to raise £600,000 from room owners in order to fund an extremely questionable proposal.  He has not explained what the money is for nor how it would be spent other than to say that some of it would pay Alastair Dobbie of Shortlands Law.

As stated earlier a more detailed analysis will be written in the next week, but there are some things that Qualia Care investors should know right now. These are:

1.  The claim that the administrator is willing to transfer the freeholds has not been supported by any evidence or communication from the administrator. It is highly unlikely that Nico Bruyniks is giving the whole picture. He wants the £600,000 and giving the whole picture might put that in jeopardy [Note: Mr Bruyniks has said that the money is not for him and we believe him, but he is still asking investors to pay £600,000 to Shortlands Law]. There will be conditions attached to any transfer of the freeholds which makes the cost significantly higher than an initial small payment because the administrator is owed hundreds of thousands of pounds, if not a million or more, in fees. The administrator is not going to simply write those off in return for being paid a nominal sum. It is noticeable that the update did not come from Alastair Dobbie. This is because Alastair Dobbie could be sued for stating something which is untrue of for failing to give the full picture.

2.  Membership of, and participation in, Creditor Committees is unpaid. There is no entitlement to be paid for being on those committees. Creditors (i.e room owners) do not owe any money to any members of the committees. This includes a solicitor. All the various Creditor Committees involved in the former Qualia Care companies consist almost exclusively of Mr Bruyniks, Mr Dobbie and sales agents, or their chosen people. They were able to manipulate the committee memberships to gain control for their supporters only. We have evidence of them telling investors who to vote for so that the votes were split between their chosen people and no independent creditor was able to get a look in. Creditors have not been fairly represented because the sales agents have controlled the committees from the start and it was always their aim to take a 20% share of any restructuring that they can push through the administrator. That may have changed now because investors, and most probably the FCA, did not like that arrangement.

3.  Investors should not be pressured into paying the £600,000 now. They should wait for irrefutable proof from the administrator before parting with any money. The administrator is obliged to notify creditors if there are any developments. No doubt he will advise creditors when the time is right and then the creditors will be able to make an informed decision. £600,000 seems a very large sum of money for what should be a relatively straightforward process. We are surprised that Mr Bruyniks and the investor co-ordinators have not obtained quotes from law firms with a lot more experience in restructuring businesses and dealing with property / shareholding issues because that appears to be what the administrator is proposing (assuming that the Bruyniks emails are correct). We think the timing of Mr Bruyniks’ emails, i.e BEFORE the administrator has reported to creditors, was designed to ensure that Shortlands Law got the work. Leaseholders would be wise to speak to other law firms to find out what their charges would be and compare them to those of Shortlands Law. It is always sensible to seek independent legal advice.

4.  We are wondering whether Alastair Dobbie and Shortlands Law have a conflict of interest which would prevent them from acting for many leaseholders. It is worth asking that question of them. The reason we raise this is because Mr Bruyniks has said that the administrator’s proposal will be for the freehold of each care home property to be transferred to the leaseholders in that specific property. The rights to operate the property (which are currently held by Qualia Care Ltd [in administration]) would also be transferred to those same leaseholders. It is proposed by the administrator that 13 separate properties are treated in this way. These are separate properties. Some are profitable, some are not. Some are closed. For the most part the properties do not have common leaseholders i.e the investors are different. It is certain that some properties will need a lot more repairs and maintenance than others.

Mr Bruyniks wants all 13 properties to be combined under an umbrella company. That strategy was devised a long time ago between Mr Bruyniks, the sales agents and Alastair Dobbie. There is evidence that they saw this umbrella company as their long-term revenue stream. Mr Dobbie has been working for Mr Bruyniks and others under those instructions. We raise the question as to whether it is in the best interests of leaseholders in a profitable property to agree to put it into a pot with unprofitable properties. Also, whether it is in the best interests of leaseholders in a well maintained property to put it into a pot with rundown properties. It is questionable whether it is in their best interests at all. It may be morally right for victims of a large scam to attempt to look after each other, but an independent solicitor would have a duty to his clients to point out that it might be detrimental to their finances. If that is the case, leaseholders in the profitable, well maintained properties might well be better off instructing a solicitor who represents just their interests and not one who is attempting to combine 13 properties. That might be another reason why Mr Bruyniks is asking leaseholders to pay now and is a good reason for leaseholders not to instruct Shortlands Law until the administrator writes to creditors and they can obtain guarantees that Shortlands Law is acting in their best interests.

5.  The administrator’s proposal has not yet been approved by the FCA [We apologise to Mr Bruyniks and Mr Dobbie because we originally referred to it as the Bruyniks/Dobbie proposal. We said we would apologise for any errors]. We believe it is unlikely to gain that approval if it results in rewarding those involved in selling the scam. Alastair Dobbie has presented weird and wonderful proposals in the past, in Qualia and in other cases. They have all been thrown out. Many room owners will remember his Framework Proposal. There is no reason to think that this current proposal would be refused by the FCA because it has been formulated and presented by the administrator and seems to be very fair to leaseholders (although they should still take independent legal advice).

Some investors [we originally said ‘Qualia Care investors’, but they were in fact MBI investors] were never interested in any proposal from Nico Bruyniks or Alastair Dobbie at any time. We have been advised that the freeholds were bought by an accountant who persuaded leaseholders to surrender their leases and take shares in the freehold company. Each care home is a separate entity and has not been combined with the others. Mr Bruyniks has been critical of this arrangement and has written in his emails that none of the leaseholders have ever received any money. We know some of those investors and asked them if this was true. One of them told us that she received a payment every month up until Qualia Care (the operator of the care home) went into administration. They are now in the process of appointing a new care home operator. If the investor has been receiving payments every month then Mr Bruyniks’s statements about the MBI care homes are not true and may well be designed to mislead a large group of leaseholders.

We promised Mr Bruyniks that we would consider his comments to us and we will. We will include them in our next article.

We have asked him, Shortlands Law and Alastair Dobbie some questions which we hope they will be kind enough to answer.

To view our previous article on Qualia Care please click on this LINK.

Qualia Care Brief Update. Qualia Care Brief Update. Qualia Care Brief Update.

 

Scam Alert

Latest Money Mule Convictions

Latest Money Mule Convictions 300 233 SOS Team

Latest Money Mule Convictions.

In a recent operation that ran from mid-September to the end of November 2022 Law enforcement from 25 countries joined forces to crack down on enablers of money laundering. The operation was focused on money mules and their recruiters. A ‘money mule’ is a person who transfers stolen money on behalf of others, usually through their bank account. People are approached by scammers and offered cash to receive money into their bank account and transfer it to another account. Acting as a money mule is a criminal offence and if convicted will result in a prison sentence. It doesn’t matter how small the amount is, a criminal conviction for money laundering is a black mark which will follow that person around all their life.

During the crack down operation more than 8,700 money mules were identified, 2,469 people were arrested worldwide and 17.5m Euros was intercepted.

There is a more detailed report on the money mule operation on this LINK.

We have several cases which involve money mules transferring money to fraudsters. In one case we investigated more than 50 money mules were involved in just that one scam. In another case which we are currently pursuing with a victim of fraud, and which will be the subject of another article in the next few weeks, £1.3m was taken from investors and passed through the money mule’s account. We have traced the perpetrator to an address in Spain. He used his profits from the illegal activity to buy flash cars, pay the family’s living expenses, pay for his daughter to attend a private school in Spain and to finance his wife’s equestrian activities.

It is also worth reading this LINK to a Europol public awareness and prevention on money mules. Money mules are not just used in investment frauds. The money paid to money mules is more often linked to a number of more common criminal activities like phishing, malware attacks, online auction fraud, e-commerce fraud, romance scams, holiday fraud (booking fraud) and many others.

Latest Money Mule Convictions.

 

Scam Sellers Charged With Fraud

Scam Sellers Charged With Fraud 300 300 SOS Team

Scam Sellers Charged With Fraud.

Many victims of scam investments would like to see the people who sold the investment to them prosecuted. It rarely happens due to apathy by law enforcement agencies and financial regulators.  However, the situation is different in the USA. The SEC and FBI are leading the way in prosecutions of the ‘enablers’ i.e the salespeople who promote and sell the scams, the escrow agents which take in the investors’ money and the parties which help structure and operate the scams.

The latest individuals to have their collars felt by the US authorities are James Robinson and David Kennedy of United Property Group (“UPG”). UPG operated out of Spain and was one of the major sales agent companies of the last 10 years. It had close links to James Moore (currently serving 11 years in the USA for his part in several scams including Bar Works, OurSpace, Dakota Oil and Florida properties) and to Renwick Haddow who was behind so many scams that it would take all day to list them. Haddow has recently pled guilty to fraud charges in the USA and is due to be sentenced in April 2023.

UPG ran a huge network of sub-agent sales companies. It only took on scams which had the potential to make sales of tens of millions of pounds. It demanded exclusivity as the master sales agent and then sold the scams through its network taking a cut of the commissions from every sale. Others who worked at UPG were Honey Meek and Edward Rice.

James Robinson and David Kennedy were arrested in Spain and are now facing extradition proceedings to face trial in the USA. The charges are in relation to their involvement in Bar Works Inc and related entities. Bar Works was one of the scams founded by Renwick Haddow. Since Mr Haddow’s arrest he has been singing like a canary. One of his main salesmen at Bar Works, Savraj Gata-Aura aka ‘Sam Aura’, was sentenced to eight years in a US prison largely thanks to Renwick Haddow’s evidence. Haddow also gave testimony against James Moore which helped the prosecution obtain the 11 year sentence.

A large number of Bar Works investors are currently involved in claims against a financial services firm in the UK called Central FX. We have read the testimony of Renwick Haddow given in court in the USA and it raises very serious questions around the establishment and operation of the Bar Works account with Central FX. Haddow has made statements which, if true, suggest that Central FX was a party to the fraud. We await the publication of the Financial Ombudsman decision which should be available shortly, but we have been made aware that the Ombudsman declined to look into the establishment of the Bar Works account at Central FX despite being requested to. If he had looked at the account he would have found that either Haddow was lying in court or a fraud had been committed at Central FX. It appears the Ombudsman doesn’t want to expose another scandal involving yet another FCA-regulated entity.

The good news is that two of the major players in selling scams are out of action for a while. We will follow the case with interest.

The press release issued by the United States Attorney’s Office in New York can be viewed on this LINK – Two British Citizens Arrested for Conspiracy to Defraud Investors……

Scam Sellers Charged With Fraud.

 

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