Investigation of Caribbean Property Investment Scheme…a cautionary tale
I first mentioned this scheme in 2013 -
Note: The above reference link was live in May 2014, but it has since been taken down.
But the truth is that I was aware of it since 2011 when I did some contract work for a UK based Tour Operator. The rumors were brought to my attention in 2011, but I dismissed them as unsubstantiated gossip put online by someone (who has since been revealed to be a disgruntled former accountant) who worked for the project. Then in 2012, I had the opportunity to visit the resort for a few days. Then I saw the operation for myself and spoke with people "in the know" in St Vincent, Barbados, and St Lucia.
I was warned that I should keep what I was being told to myself. So I sat back and relaxed, knowing that it was just a matter of time.
Then in early 2013, I got a call from a UK journalist who got my number. We spoke, but there was nothing I could tell him, really. He seemed to know a lot more than the rumors I had been hearing. Most importantly, I realized that the relevant authorities had been looking into this, and it was just a matter of time before this investigation was made public. 1040 form Singapore
Then in 2013, it all came into the open. The UK Government's "Serious Fraud Office," together with Essex Police, made public their investigation into the Harlequin group of companies behind the Buccament Bay Resort in SVG. The announcement mentioned the marketing, sale, and construction of luxury off-plan property developments in the Caribbean and other resort locations. They invited those that invested in Harlequin schemes to submit information, particularly with regards to the following resorts:
(1) Buccament Bay in St Vincent & the Grenadines;
(2) Merricks in Barbados;
(3) Marquis Estate in St Lucia;
(4) The Hideaway in the Dominican Republic;
(5) Las Canas in the Dominican Republic;
(6) Two Rivers in the Dominican Republic and
(7) Garapua Beach Resort in Brazil.
Now there is an alert on the FCA website - http://www.fca.org.uk/news/investments-made-through-harlequin-group.
As if things couldn't worsen, heavy rains in December 2013 flooded the SVG resort, not just causing property damage but also losing a life. Now documents released online claim that the resort was constructed on a flood plain?
What's the moral of this story, you may ask? Well, I think that the FCA said it perfectly -
"If you are considering investing in the Harlequin group, we urge you to proceed with caution..."