London diamond investment company loses its seven million pound sparkle
Heritage FA Limited which marketed and sold coloured diamonds and other commodities to the public for investment has been ordered into liquidation following a petition presented by the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills to wind up the company on grounds of public interest.
The petition was issued following confidential enquiries carried out by Company Investigations, part of the Insolvency Service, under section 447 of the Companies Act 1985, as amended.
The investigation found that vulnerable and elderly individuals were being targeted and aggressively sold investments in fancy coloured diamonds, rough diamonds, gold, fine art and oil wells.
The company’s sales team was located in prestigious office accommodation at 25 Canada Square in Canary Wharf.
The company claimed that its services “represent excellent value” and that for diamond trades it charged investors a “1.5% arrangement commission”.
The investigation discovered that at least £7 million was raised from investors generating commission of over £2.5 million before the company was forcibly closed by the Insolvency Service’s intervention.
Chris Mayhew, Company Investigations Supervisor, said:
This company promised safe and spectacular investment returns but simply delivered a hole in the pocket for investors
There’s only one thing to do with these bogus investment schemes, put them straight in the bin.
The Insolvency Service will continue to take robust action whenever serious failings are discovered and in particular against contemptible companies as here preying on vulnerable investors.
Notes to Editors:
Heritage FA Limited (company registration number 08499859) was incorporated on 23 April 2013 in the name Techrelevance Ltd. The name of the company was changed to its present style on 10 March 2014. The registered office was initially Suite B, 29 Harley Street, London, W1G 9QR until 16 April 2014, when it was changed to 33 FL 25 Canada Square, London, E18 5LB and, shortly afterwards, on 24 April 2014, further changed to 25 Canada Square, London, E14 5LB from 24 April 2014 to present date.
The sole recorded officer of the company (apart from the company formation agents) has been John Henry Crowder who is shown to have been the director from 10 March 2014 to present date. The share capital of the company is shown to be £100 divided into 100 ordinary shares of £1 each and all held by Mr Crowder.
Unaudited accounts for the period from 23 April 2013 (the date of incorporation) to 30 April 2014 (some 8 weeks after the appointment of Mr Crowder) report turnover of £198,973, a loss of £1,443, assets of £248,752 (debtors £241,874 and cash £6,878) and liabilities (creditors) of £250,095.
The company operated the following websites:
The petition to wind up the company was presented in the High Court on 4 December 2015 under the provisions of section 124A of the Insolvency Act 1986.
The public interest grounds for winding up the company were its lack of commercial probity by participating in a wider scheme involving the sale of fancy coloured diamonds to the public for investment and making unfounded and misleading statements to induce people to invest in diamonds and other commodities.
On the application of the Secretary of State, without notice to the company, Mr Justice Newey appointed the Official Receiver as provisional liquidator of the company on 14 January 2015.
In ordering the company into liquidation on grounds of public interest on 9 March 2016 Mr Chief Registrar Baister said:
… there has been no response by the company to the petition which appears to be unopposed … the petition is supported by an investor … who is in Court today … the evidence sets out how the company is one of a number of broker companies involved in the sale to the public of what is described as fancy coloured diamonds … action has been taken against some of these broker companies already, or might do in the future … the main allegation here is that the company has traded with a lack of commercial probity … in the absence of the company I need simply draw attention to one particular piece of evidence … a report detailing 459 individual transactions showing Diffraction paid the original supplier £1,282,862 for fancy coloured diamonds that were sold by the broker companies to investors for £5,616,030, an overall average mark-up of 334% … in some cases, the purchase price paid by investors represented an overall average mark up of over 600% … one only has to state that to see, even without the misrepresentations, that would have hampered or obliterated any possible chance of a sale at a profit for investors … the real mischief is best illustrated by one investor’s story, I will not name the lady … she explains how she was initially persuaded to invest £5,000 in a fancy coloured diamond by a company called Walbrook, one of the other broker companies using Diffraction’s platform … she was then contacted by Heritage and persuaded to invest in another fancy coloured diamond for a further £8,000, and to pay for storage fees on top of that … although she wanted to sell the second diamond Heritage had persuaded her to buy, she was instead persuaded to invest a further £9,000 in another diamond … in total she invested around £25,000 without having received any of the returns she was promised which had induced her to invest … leaving her at 91 years old with a complete loss of her savings … in my view it is plainly in the public interest to wind up this company up and I do so order.
Walbrook and Company Limited (company number 08249302) was placed into voluntary liquidation on 20 November 2013 having a reported deficiency of £35,167 with Martin C Armstrong of Allen House, 1 Westmead Road, Sutton, Surrey, SM1 4LA appointed liquidator.
The London Diamond Bourse has published consumer advice developed with the Insolvency Service with the objective of preventing the public falling foul of “boiler room” scams purporting to sell highly lucrative investment diamonds. The advice can be found in the public area of the London Diamond Bourse website.
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 appointment of the Official Receiver 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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Published: 18 March 2016
From: The Insolvency Service