Worthless land scam nets long director bans for promoters
The directors of two companies which both traded as Option Four Group have been banned as company directors for a total of 26 years.
Mehmet Husnu (also known as Matt Hudson) and Ali Seytanpir (also known as Alex Townsend) sold as an investment land that was virtually worthless. Their disqualifications follow an investigation by the Official Receiver at the Public Interest Unit, a specialist team of the Insolvency Service, whose involvement commenced with the winding up of the company by HM Revenue & Customs.
The companies, OFG Investments Ltd (OFG) and GIG Properties Ltd (GIG), marketed and sold plots of land belonging to another company on a former World War II airfield in Devon to members of the public as an investment on commission, on the basis that the land represented an investment opportunity, suitable for development and having a realistic prospect of planning permission, when it did not. The companies’ salespeople, website and brochures suggested to customers that there was a reasonable prospect of planning permission for housing and/or commercial development being granted, giving a substantial investment return. The actual position was that the local authority plan for the area would not allow such development at the site as claimed in the companies’ literature.
The Official Receiver’s investigation uncovered that between December 2010 to December 2011, the companies made sales of plots of land as an investment to members of the public who paid sums totaling £2,209,296.
Mr Husnu, 44, of London SE26 has given an undertaking to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to be disqualified as a director for a period of 14 years. His disqualification commenced on 12 January 2017.
Mr Seytanpir, 31, of Bexley, Kent has given an undertaking to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to be disqualified as a director for a period of 12 years. His disqualification commences on 15 March 2017.
Neither the companies nor the owner of the land did anything to add value to the land before the companies sold it to customers at markups that were so substantial that the companies were able, by agreement with the owner, to retain as commission in excess of 85% of the sales proceeds of £2,209,296. Payments totaling £1,337,935 were made to Mr Husnu, Mr Seytanpir and a relative’s company in Northern Cyprus.
OFG and GIG only ceased trading when a freezing order was brought against them, together with the company that owned the land, in December 2011 by the then Financial Services Authority, which had received a number of complaints from members of the public about calls that they received from OFG’s ‘brokers.’ The FSA alleged that these companies and their directors had established and / or been operating and / or knowingly concerned in an unauthorised collective investment scheme in breach of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000.
Commenting on this case Anthony Hannon, Official Receiver in the Public Interest Unit, said:
While land can be a viable investment, it should have been clear to the directors from the local authority’s published plan that there was no likelihood of planning permission being granted at the location, and so there was no viable exit strategy for the so called investments.
As with all the other land banking companies that the Official Receiver has dealt with over many years, these companies have brought misery to unsuspecting members of the public, who were persuaded to part with their savings in exchange for virtually worthless plots of land.
The company was run entirely for the benefit of the directors and salespeople, at substantial cost to the investors who had been misled and have lost their money in what was never a realistic investment. In all our years of dealing with land banking scams we have not seen a single piece of land that has been sold in this way actually go on to obtain planning permission.
The lengthy periods of disqualification in this case show that this kind of behaviour will not be tolerated by the Insolvency Service.
Notes to Editors
OFG Investments Ltd (CRN: 07461444) was incorporated on 6 December 2010. The trading address shown on its literature was 27 Old Gloucester Street, London WC1N 3AX, but this was an accommodation address where the company had no physical presence. The company’s actual trading address was initially at 29 London Road, Bromley BR1 1DG and subsequently moved to 40 Marsh Wall, London E14 9TP in around July 2011.
GIG Investments Ltd (CRN: 07799028) was incorporated on 5 October 2011. Its affairs were intermingled with OFG; GIG’s bank account was used to receive monies from customers who were sold plots of land by OFG. Its trading address was at 40 Marsh Wall, London E14 9TP.
The petitions to wind up OFG Investments Ltd and GIG Properties Ltd were presented by HM Revenue & Customs.
The winding up order against OFG Investments Ltd was made on 19 January 2015.
The winding up order against GIG Properties Ltd was made on 2 February 2015.
Mehmet Husnu (also known as Matt Hudson) is of London, SE26 and his date of birth is July 1972.
Ali Seytanpir (also known as Alex Townsend) is of Bexley, Kent and his date of birth is May 1985.
On 22 December 2016, the Secretary of State accepted a disqualification undertaking from Mehmet Husnu for a period of 14 years. The disqualification commenced on 12 January 2017.
On 22 February 2017 the Secretary of State accepted a disqualification undertaking from Ali Seytanpir for a period of 12 years. The disqualification commences on 15 March 2017.
A disqualification order has the effect that without specific permission of a court, a person with a disqualification cannot:
- act as a director of a company
- take part, directly or indirectly, in the promotion, formation or management of a company or limited liability partnership
- be a receiver of a company’s property
Disqualification undertakings are the administrative equivalent of a disqualification order but do not involve court proceedings. Persons subject to a disqualification order are bound by a range of other restrictions.
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Published: 14 March 2017
From: The Insolvency Service