The investigation found that the company had cold called unsuspecting members of the public promoting the purchase of plots of land in Brazil, Cyprus, Egypt and Thailand as investment opportunities. The company targeted vulnerable and unsuspecting individuals using high pressure sales tactics.
The company’s former website, www.firtschoiceinproperties.com promised to bring the overseas property market to the doorstep of both new and experienced UK investors with the company boasting 50 years of experience in international land and property enabling it to pin point the best investment opportunities and to make valuable real estate a reality for individuals disappointed with the performance of the stock market.
Members of the public are understood to have invested overall at least £63,000 and possibly up to a total of £840,000 with the company.
The company’s only presence in the UK was through a serviced office address and its sole director is resident in Costa Rica and has not responded to the investigation.
Welcoming the court’s winding up decision Chris Mayhew, Company Investigations Supervisor, said:
Vulnerable people, not valuable land, were pin pointed by this company and they were callously duped into investing by its cold calling investment sharks.
One elderly investor in Fife was repeatedly contacted with extravagant claims such as: ‘can you hear that noise … it’s the trading floor, it’s red hot’ in order to persuade him to invest.
We work closely with other regulators to protect the interests of the public against unscrupulous operators and I would like to thank Trading Standards in Fife who have provided the investigation with valuable assistance in bringing this company’s activities to an end.
If any investor has had the misfortune to be contacted by this company the Official Receiver now appointed to wind up its affairs will be glad to receive details of its dealings with you.
The Insolvency Service will investigate abuses and close down companies if they are found to be operating against the public interest.
Notes to Editors:
First Choice Properties MGT Ltd (06872386) was incorporated on 7 April 2009 in the name Real Estate Consultancy & Marketing Limited. The name of the company was changed to its present style on 15 January 2013. The registered office of the company from 16 January 2013 was 60 Cannon Street, London, EC4N 6JP. The sole recorded director and secretary from 11 January 2013 was Alexis Jimenez.
The company was inactive whilst under the control of the company formation agent and dormant company accounts were filed for the periods ended 30 April 2010, 2011 and 2012. No accounts were filed for the period the company operated under the directorship of Mr Jimenez.
The petition to wind up the company was presented in the High Court on 1 May 2015 under the provisions of section 124A of the Insolvency Act 1986 following confidential enquiries carried out by Company Investigations under section 447 of the Companies Act 1985, as amended.
The grounds to wind up the company were its abandonment; lack of commercial probity; and failure to file accounts and annual returns. The petition was unopposed by the company.
In ordering the company into liquidation on 15 July 2015 Registrar Baister said:
… No one, unsurprisingly, appears for the Company … it is fairly clear that the inference the Secretary of State invites can be drawn … the business was carried on in a way that is quite simply a fraud … the bank accounts into which money was sent were not held in the name of the company, which does not bode well to those of us familiar with this type of scam … there is sufficient to indicate that it is in the public interest to wind it up … the company should be the last choice of any investor.
Company Investigations, part of the Insolvency Service, uses powers under the Companies Act 1985 to conduct confidential fact-finding investigations into the activities of live limited companies in the UK on behalf of the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS). Further information about live company investigations is available.
The Insolvency Service administers the insolvency regime, investigating all compulsory liquidations and individual insolvencies (bankruptcies) through the Official Receiver to establish why they became insolvent. It may also use powers under the Companies Act 1985 to conduct confidential fact-finding investigations into the activities of live limited companies in the UK. In addition, the agency authorises and regulates the insolvency profession, deals with disqualification of directors in corporate failures, assesses and pays statutory entitlement to redundancy payments when an employer cannot or will not pay employees, provides banking and investment services for bankruptcy and liquidation estate funds and advises ministers and other government departments on insolvency law and practice. Further information about the work of the Insolvency Service, and how to complain about financial misconduct, is available.
By virtue of the winding up orders all public enquiries concerning the affairs of the company should be made to: The Official Receiver, Public Interest Unit , 4 Abbey Orchard Street, London, SW1P 2HT. Telephone: 0207 637 1110 Email: email@example.com.
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