Four companies involved in the mis-selling of undeveloped land for investment to the public, raising 3.3m in the process, have been ordered into liquidation in the High Court on grounds of public interest following an Insolvency Service investigation.
Complete Building Systems Limited, Rawtenstall CBS Limited, Evesham CBS Limited and Hounslow West London Limited were all wound-up on 18 December, after the High Court found them, to have continued a thoroughly disreputable land banking scheme and to have misled the public into buying overpriced plots of land for investment.
The companies were formerly based at offices at The Coach House and at Commercial House in Bromley, Kent.
Investors who had bought plots of land from an earlier company called The Property Partnership (see note 6) were told that Complete Building Systems Limited would buy from or sell on behalf of investors plots which they had bought from The Property Partnership.
Welcoming the Courts winding up decisions Chris Mayhew, Company Investigations Supervisor at the Insolvency Service, said:
Investors were bullied and lied to by these rogue companies and their representatives to persuade them to invest in plots of land of negligible value.
Some investors were falsely told that unless they bought more plots their existing plots would not be developed and would become recreational plots such as flower beds or childrens play area and that they would then be charged maintenance by the local authority.
In some cases particularly vulnerable investors, some suffering some form of physical or mental disorder, were cynically targeted and ripped off.
The Insolvency Service will simply not allow such companies to fleece 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.
Complete Building Systems Limited sold plots of land at Rawtenstall and Evesham. Its marketing of those sites co-incided with the commencement of the Secretary of States statutory investigation into RTW (Burnhill) Ltd and Burnhill Land Investments Limited which were both ordered into liquidation on grounds of public interest on 7 August 2013 (see notes 6 & 7).
In addition to the Rawtenstall site (initially bought by a third party for 40,000 and divided into 165 plots) and the Evesham site (initially bought by a third party for 45,000 and divided into 100 plots), plots were sold at several other sites, namely:
Goffs Oak, Hammond Street, Waltham Cross, Hertfordshire
Cross Keys, Norwich
Snakey Lane, Feltham
Boal Quay, Kings Lynn.
Plots were sold to investors for between 4,500 and 15,000 each.
At least 3.3 million was raised from the public of which some 1.4 million was paid out in commission to sales staff including a Mr Michael Doohan and a Mr Steven Sulley. Additionally payments were made to Mr Christopher Shipton, the registered director of the four companies, totalling some 627,000.
According to Mr Shipton land could be sold for whatever price you wanted.