The trial of former Buccament Bay Resort owner David Ames continues as a UK court hears that thousands of investors were cheated out of more than £220 million in ‘off-site’ luxury properties in the Caribbean.
FTAADVISER reports that David Ames, 70, has been charged with three counts of fraud by abuse of position as the company director at Harlequin Management Services South East Limited.
According to the court, the former boss encouraged investors to buy Caribbean properties before they were built and then failed to repay them.
He allegedly persuaded investors to sign contracts without revealing the true state of the company, resulting in £226 million in losses.
Jurors at Prospero House crown court heard that investors lost £398mn of their own savings and pensions between 2006 and 2015.
Ames and his close family took home £6.2 million during that time period.
15 locations, mostly in the Caribbean, were selected for potential development.
St Lucia’s refurbished hotel and St Vincent’s Buccament Bay development were only partially completed.
Accounts manager Sarah Tricker, who worked at HMSSE, told the court she wasn’t aware of any fraudulent activities at that firm. She even put down a deposit on Buccament Bay property herself.
Due to the lack of a mortgage, she was unable to complete the purchase.
When the company went into administration in May 2013, she was not informed of the collapse. During the trial, she said: “I knew the cash flow was tight…but anything else wasn’t mentioned to me.”
Before the company went into administration, Tricker managed its accounts. There seemed to be problems with the accounts management at Buccament Bay, she said.
As Tricker told the court, the hotel looked okay, but the finances weren’t. Our financial questions weren’t being answered, so we went there.
“We took over the financial team there as they didn’t seem to know what they were doing.”
According to Tricker, investors sometimes ask her why the unit they purchased hasn’t been completed. Due to the fact that she was not responsible for handling these queries, she passed them on to the sales team.
Prosecutor Michael Bowes told the court that payments to investors for their loans stopped around December 2012 or January 2013. According to him, investors received a letter informing them of a bank problem.
It may have been David Ames or another person who wrote the letter, according to Tricker.
Ames, of Essex, denies three counts of fraud by abuse of position.