Harlequin Properties was an unregulated overseas’ property scheme. Currently under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), a lack of properties built has seen thousands of people left in debt. Many have been advised to invest in the scheme through a SIPP pension, even though such an investment was unsuitable for them.
AM Wealth Management
This recent ruling is of particular note due to the decision by the ombudsman over who was responsible for the advice. The investor was advised to invest in Harlequin Hotels & Resorts via a SIPP by an unregulated advisor. The SIPP pension was then set up by Allan McRoberts of AM Wealth Management, who signed a disclaimer in advance that absolved them from giving advice as to whether such an investment would be in the client’s interests.
Like thousands before them, the client is unlikely to see any return from their investment in Harlequin Properties and complained initially to AM Wealth Management. In turn, AM Wealth Management advised the client that any blame for mis-advice should be directed to the unregulated financial advisor who recommended the scheme. They themselves had set up the SIPP, but absolved themselves of responsibility for the quality of the investment by producing the disclaimer in advance.
The Financial Ombudsman Service did not recognise the disclaimer as binding, and upheld the client’s complaint as AM Wealth Management were a regulated financial firm with responsibilities to their clients that an unregulated advisor does not possess.
A major contributory factor in the Financial Ombudsman’s decision appears to have been two other client cases relating to Allan McRoberts, Harlequin Hotels & Resorts and the same unregulated advisor in question. All three client cases contained exactly the same disclaimer and the same unregulated and regulated advisor partnership. As a regulated advisor, AM Wealth Management had a responsibility to their clients that superseded any disclaimer it may as to be signed.
The Harlequin case is just one example of a mis-sold SIPP being used to invest in a scheme that resulted in a financial loss for the individual in question. If you have invested in an unregulated scheme such as Harlequin Hotels & Resorts, via a SIPP pension or other recommended method that did not prove of financial gain, TLW Solicitors may be able to help you on a no-win, no-fee basis. We may also be able to assist you even if the scheme you invested in is no longer operating.
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