Following an investigation by the Insolvency Service, Solitaire Alternatives Ltd, a company that purported – but appeared not - to sell diamonds as an investment to members of the public, has been wound up in the public interest in the High Court.
The winding up order on 4 February was made on a petition by the Secretary of State for Business Innovation & Skills and followed a confidential investigation under section 447 of the Companies Act 1985.
Solitaire failed to cooperate with the investigation in any way. However, during the investigation, certain information was obtained from third parties. This showed that the company received some £747,000 apparently from investors. However, there was nothing to suggest that any diamonds had been purchased for investors, leading Registrar Jones to conclude that indeed this had been the case.
Solitaire’s website included a recommendation that the diamonds purchased should be kept in storage facilities held at the London Silver Vaults located on Chancery Lane in London. In its terms and conditions, Solitaire stated that once purchased, clients’ diamonds would be allocated to an account in the client’s name at the Malca Amit bonded warehouse. Both London Silver Vaults and Malca Amit stated that Solitaire had no such agreement over the storage of diamonds and London Silver Vaults added that it had received enquiries by customers of Solitaire asking to view their (non-existent) diamonds. Registrar Jones considered this to be a serious matter.
For a time, Solitaire had use of an accommodation address in the City of London which had been used for the receipt of post and occasional sales meetings with clients. However, by the time investigations started, Solitaire’s agreement with the office had been terminated due to its failure to pay rent. Solitaire had then failed to file any documents recording a new registered office address.
Welcoming the court’s decision, David Hill, a chief investigator with the Insolvency Service, said:
This formally brings to a halt a disreputable business carried on by this company which did not co-operate with the investigation, enticed investors by spinning a web of lies and sold thin air instead of diamonds.
The Insolvency Service will not allow companies to operate in this way and will investigate abuses and close down such companies if, as in this case, they are found to be operating, against the public interest.
Notes to editors
Solitaire Alternatives Ltd (CRO No. 08268726) was incorporated on 25 October 2012. Its registered office address was recorded as St Clements House, 27 Clement’s Lane, London EC4N 7AE. Its current director is Mr Gary Arnold, whose address is in London.
The petition was presented under s124A of the Insolvency Act 1986 on 21 October 2014 and the Winding up Order was made on 4 February 2015.
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.
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.