Press release

Rare earth metals escrow company wound up following investigation

An escrow service provider company, based in Nottingham, was wound up by the High Court on 21 January 2015, following an investigation by the Insolvency Service.

Imperial Escrow Ltd offered an escrow facility for a small number of clients, two of whom, Denver Trading AG, a Swiss registered company, and Denver Trading Ltd, a Seychelles registered company (collectively ‘the Denver companies’), sold rare earth metal oxides to members of the public as an investment product through a network of UK based sales agent companies.

The Denver companies, along with Imperial Escrow Ltd, were placed into provisional liquidation by the High Court on 19 December 2013, following petitions presented by the Secretary of State. The Denver companies were subsequently compulsorily wound up on 27 August 2014, after it was found that serious misrepresentations were made to members of the public as to prospective investment returns from the purchase and onward sale of rare earth metal oxides.

Imperial Escrow Ltd was used by the Denver companies to bank their customer remittances. On collection of those remittances transfers were made to Denver companies sales agents, usually representing 40% to 50% of customer fees, and the remaining balances were typically paid to offshore bank accounts controlled by the individuals who managed and controlled the Denver companies, Christopher John Sabin and Tobias Alexander Ridpath.

Commenting on the winding-up of the company, David Hill, a Chief Investigator with the Insolvency Service, said:

This formally brings to an end the activities of this company, linked to companies that, in truth were peddling near worthless investments.

The Insolvency Service will not allow rogue companies to rip-off vulnerable and honest people and will investigate abuses and close down companies if they are found to be operating or about to operate, against the public interest.

The sole director of Imperial Escrow Ltd, Rizvan Mian, acted on the instructions of Mr Sabin and Mr Ridpath. At the date that Imperial Escrow Ltd was placed into provisional liquidation, it held £1.1 million in escrow accounts on behalf of the Denver companies. The court was sufficiently concerned that those monies were at risk from the continued trading of the company, so ordering the company to be placed into provisional liquidation, where control of those company’s assets, including its bank accounts, were transferred into the custody of the Official Receiver.

Imperial Escrow Ltd claimed that the £1.1 million it held on behalf of the Denver companies were monies that belonged to those companies. However Registrar Jones in the High Court said that it was essential that the client funds were dealt with properly after investigation by the Official Receiver.

Notes to Editors

Imperial Escrow Ltd, (registration number 06928188), was incorporated on 9 June 2009. The registered address of the company is that of the Official Receiver: The Insolvency Service, 4 Abbey Orchard Street, London, SW1P 2HT.

The petition to wind up the company was presented in the High Court on 19 December 2013 under the provisions of section 124A of the Insolvency Act 1986 following confidential enquiries by Company Investigations under section 447 of the Companies Act 1985, as amended.

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: piu.or@insolvency.gsi.gov.uk.