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Harlequin Properties chairman fails to comply with Court deadline

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The chairman of struggling overseas property investment scheme Harlequin is under fire again, this time for failing to give evidence to a court within the judge's deadline.

In a case brought by an “elderly” man injured in the construction of Harlequin properties in St Vincent, the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court dismissed claims David Ames was too busy to file his witness statement.

The court denied his request for a retrospective extension, on the grounds it had taken him and his legal team almost three years to ask for it, which the court branded “excessive and inexcusable”.

Harlequin denies responsibility for the man’s injuries. The decision is likely to mean that even though Ames eventually provided his witness statement seven months after the original deadline, the court bans it from being used as evidence.

The five year long Caribbean case centres on a claim for work-related damages of £37,500 by Percival Stewart, a St Vincent man described by the court documents as “elderly”.

St Vincent and the Grenadines is the location of Harlequin’s main hotel Buccament Bay, one of just two complexes it has completed with some of the £400m British pensioners invested in the unregulated scheme, capital they can no longer access and is in most cases generating no return.

Investors had attempted to get back some of their money by forcing Ames to sell-off Harlequin’s flagship resort, Buccament Bay, given the company is based in St Vincent.

The judge agreed with Ames that while the investments were sold through Essex-based Harlequin Management Services (South East), Harlequin’s ventures were not run with ‘bird’s eye management from Essex’.

The overseas property company has been dogged by legal battles in the UK and the Caribbean. Investors fear much of their pensions have been spent on 15% commissions Harlequin paid to advisers selling the unregulated scheme, and alleged mismanagement.

In March, Harlequin was forced to put its UK headquarters up for sale, after the sales arm entered liquidation, following warnings about the scheme from the regulator and an ongoing Serious Fraud Office investigation.

Around 6,000 mainly pension savers invested in off-plan Harlequin villas and hotel rooms, in the hope they would receive an income from renting them out to tourists but these investments now appear to be worthless.

Those who have lost out may have a claim to recover the money they have invested and associated losses. TLW’s experienced team have successfully recovered compensation for Harlequin victims. Call free on 0800 169 5925 or fill our our enquiry form.

Article attributed to Laura Miller | News Editor | Professional Adviser

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